Interactions of organic compounds with wastewater dissolved organic matter: Role of hydrophobic fractions

Talli Ilani, Elke Schulz, Benny Chefetz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


The role of structural fractions of dissolved organic matter (DOM) from wastewater in the sorption process of hydrophobic organic compounds is still not clear. In this study, DOM from two wastewater treatment plants (Lachish and Netanya, Israel) was fractionated to hydrophobic acid (HoA) and hydrophobic neutral (HoN) fractions. The fractions were characterized and their sorptive capabilities for s-triazine herbicides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were studied. For all sorbates, the binding to the HoN fractions was much higher than to HoA fractions. The HoA fractions were more polar than the HoN fractions, containing a higher level of carboxylic functionalities. However the higher binding coefficients of atrazine (2-chloro-4-ethylamine-6-isopropylamino- s-triazine) and ametryn [2-(ethyl-amino)-4-isopropylamino-6-methyl-thio-s- triazine] obtained for the HoN fractions suggest that their sorption is governed by hydrophobic-like interactions rather than H bonding. The values of binding coefficients of PAHs measured for the HoN fractions were within the range reported for humic acids and much higher than other fractions, suggesting that this fraction plays an important role in the overall sorption of these compounds by DOM. Higher sorption coefficients were measured for the Netanya DOM sample containing higher level of hydrophobic fractions (HoA + HoN) than the Lachish DOM, suggesting that the sorption of hydrophobic organic compounds by DOM is governed by the level of these structural substances. The evaluation of mobility of organic pollutants by wastewater irrigation requires not only assessment of the total carbon concentration but also, more importantly, the content of the hydrophobic fractions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)552-562
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005


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