UV Photolysis of Nitrate: Effects of Natural Organic Matter and Dissolved Inorganic Carbon and Implications for UV Water Disinfection

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Nitrite (NO2-) formation during ultraviolet (UV) photolysis of nitrate was studied as a function of pH and natural organic matter (NOM) concentration to determine water-quality effects on quantum yields and overall formation potential during UV disinfection of drinking water with polychromatic, medium-pressure (MP) Hg lamps. Quantum yields measured at 228 nm are approximately 2 times higher than at 254 nm under all conditions studied. In the absence
of NOM, NO2 - quantum yields decrease with time. With addition of NOM, initial quantum yields increase, and the timedependent decrease is eliminated. At 15 ppm dissolved organic carbon (DOC) as NOM, the quantum yield increases with time. Dissolved inorganic carbon significantly decreases NO2 - yields at pH 8 but not pH 6, presumably
by reaction of CO2(aq) with peroxynitrite, a major intermediate in NO2 - formation. The results indicate important and previously unrecognized roles forNOMand CO2(aq) in nitrate photolysis. When photolysis was carried out using the
full spectrum MPUV lamp and germicidally relevant UV doses, NO2 - concentrations remained well below the U.S. maximum contaminant level of 1 ppm N, even with nitrate initially present at 10 ppm N. Under current U.S.
regulations, NO2 - formation should not pose a significant problem for water utilities during UV disinfection of drinking water with MP Hg lamps.

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