Identifying the extent of humic acid (HA)-like and fulvic acid (FA)-like natural organic matter (NOM) present in natural water is important to assess disinfection by-product formation and fouling potential during drinking water treatment applications. However, the unique fluorescence properties related to HA-like NOM is masked by the fluorescence signals of the more abundant FA-like NOM. For this reason, it is not possible to accurately characterize HA-like and FA-like NOM components in a single water sample using direct fluorescence EEM analysis. A relatively simple approach is described here that demonstrates the feasibility of using a fluorescence excitation-emission matrix (EEM) approach for identifying HA-like and FA-like NOM fractions in water when used in combination with a series of pH adjustments and filtration steps. It is demonstrated that the fluorescence EEMs of HA-like and FA-like NOM fractions from the river water sample possessed different spectral properties. Fractionation of HA-like and FA-like NOM prior to fluorescence analysis is therefore proposed as a more reasonable approach.
Keywords: Natural organic matter (NOM), fluorescence spectroscopy, fulvic acid-like NOM, humic acid-like NOM