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Water Science & Technology: Water Supply Vol 1 No 4 pp 149–157 © IWA Publishing 2001

Polar and non-polar aromatic micropollutants in water (drinking-water) resources

P. Literathy

Water Resources Research Centre, VITUKI Plc., WHO Collaborating Centre for Protection and Control of Drinking-water Resources, Kvassay J.u. 1., 1095 Budapest, Hungary

Aromatic compounds are important contaminants that limit the intended uses of water resources. Both polar and non-polar substances, such as phenols, aromatic sulfonates, lignin-sulfonic acids, humic and fulvic substances (acids) and mono- and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons, their alkyl-substituted derivatives, respectively, are among the potential aromatic micropollutants. During the last 5 - 10 years, an analytical approach has been developed on the basis of total fluorescence measurement of the original water sample and its organic solvent (cyclohexane) extract. It has been demonstrated and verified that polar aromatic compounds fluoresce only in the original water sample, whereas non-polar (hydrophobic) compounds fluoresce in an organic solvent (e.g. cyclohexane) extract. During extraction, polar compounds remain in the water sample. This method has been used in a country-wide survey in drinking water aquifers, as well as in several environmental impact assessment studies, particularly for petroleum-related pollution. It is a very convenient method to determine the naturally occurring humic and fulvic substances in water and has proved to be an appropriate substitute of the infrared spectrophotometric method for oil pollution assessment in the environment, also having the advantage of signalling more harmful, toxic aromatic petroleum hydrocarbons.

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