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Aqueous photochemical degradation of hydroxylated PAHs: kinetics, pathways, and multivariate effects of main water constituents

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>15/03/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Science of the Total Environment
Number of pages7
Pages (from-to)166-172
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date11/01/16
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Hydroxylated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (OH-PAHs) are contaminants of emerging concern in the aquatic environment, so it is of great significance to understand their environmental transformation and toxicity. This study investigated the aqueous photochemical behavior of four OH-PAHs, 9-Hydroxyfluorene (9-OHFL), 2-Hydroxyfluorene, 9-Hydroxyphenanthrene and 1-Hydroxypyrene, under simulated sunlight irradiation (λ > 290 nm). It was observed that their photodegradation followed the pseudo-first-order kinetics. Based on the determined quantum yields, their calculated solar apparent photodegradation half-lives in surface waters at 45° N latitude ranged from 0.4 min for 9-Hydroxyphenanthrene to 7.5 × 103 min for 9-OHFL, indicating that the OH-PAHs would intrinsically photodegrade fast in sunlit surface waters. Furthermore, 9-OHFL as an example was found to undergo direct photolysis, and self-sensitized photooxidation via radical dotOH rather than 1O2 in pure water. The potential photoreactions involved photoinduced hydroxylation, dehydrogenation and isomerization based on product identification by GC–MS/MS. 9-OHFL photodegraded slower in natural waters than in pure water, which was attributed to the integrative effects of the most photoreactive species, such as Fe(III), NO3−, Cl− and humic acid. The photomodified toxicity was further examined using Vibrio fischeri, and it was found that the toxicity of photolyzed 9-OHFL did not decrease significantly (p > 0.05) either in pure water or in seawater, implying the comparable or higher toxicity of some intermediates. These results are important for assessing the fate and risks of OH-PAHs in surface waters.