Hudson, Naomi Jane (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Organic carbon is ubiquitous throughout the aquatic environment. It is an heterogeneous mixture of compounds, some of which are fluorescent, with allochthonous and autochthonous origins. The most common aquatic fluorophores are humic materials (peaks C and A) from degraded plant matter and protein-like material (peaks T1 and T2) of microbial origin. Spectral fingerprints of aquatic organic matter composition may be visualised on an excitation emission matrix (EEM) on which each fluorophore is identifiable as a characteristic peak. Protein-like fluorescence (T1 and T2) is linked to bacterial activity, sewage treatment process efficiency and therefore organic matter bioavailability but its source and fluorescence response is poorly understood. In comparison, peaks C and A are widely studied and have historically been considered to be old, degraded and stable. In this thesis I investigate the character of surface water and effluent fluorescent organic matter using EEMs. I identify the likely origins and bioavailability of common fluorophores and the applicability of fluorescence as a technique for measuring the polluting potential of organic carbon in waters. I also determine changes in sample character and organic carbon concentration, through responses of the common fluorophores, under different environmental conditions and recommend best practice for sample storage.
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