Photodegradation of hydroxyfluorenes in ice and water: A comparison of kinetics, effects of water constituents, and phototransformation by-products

Hongrui Ma , Linke Ge , Shengkai Cao , Crispin Halsall , Junfeng Niu , Dongxiao Bai , Guangkai He , Peng Zhang


Received August 31, 2021,Revised , Accepted November 01, 2021, Available online February 01, 2022

Volume 35,2023,Pages 139-145

The photochemical behavior of organic pollutants in ice is poorly studied in comparison to aqueous photochemistry. Here we report a detailed comparison of ice and aqueous photodegradation of two representative OH-PAHs, 2-hydroxyfluorene (2-OHFL) and 9-hydroxyfluorene (9-OHFL), which are newly recognized contaminants in the wider environment including colder regions. Interestingly, their photodegradation kinetics were clearly influenced by whether they reside in ice or water. Under the same simulated solar irradiation (λ > 290 nm), OHFLs photodegraded faster in ice than in equivalent aqueous solutions and this was attributed to the specific concentration effect caused by freezing. Furthermore, the presence of dissolved constituents in ice also influenced photodegradation with 2-OHFL phototransforming the fastest in ‘seawater’ ice (k = (11.4 ± 1.0) × 10−2 min−1) followed by ‘pure-water’ ice ((8.7 ± 0.4) × 10−2 min−1) and ‘freshwater’ ice ((8.0 ± 0.7) × 10−2 min−1). The presence of dissolved constituents (specifically Cl, NO3, Fe(III) and humic acid) influences the phototransformation kinetics, either enhancing or suppressing phototransformation, but this is based on the quantity of the constituent present in the matrixes, the specific OHFL isomer and the matrix type (e.g., ice or aqueous solution). Careful derivation of key photointermediates was undertaken in both ice and water samples using tandem mass spectrometry. Ice phototransformation exhibited fewer by-products and ‘simpler’ pathways giving rise to a range of hydroxylated fluorenes and hydroxylated fluorenones in ice. These results are of importance when considering the fate of PAHs and OH-PAHs in cold regions and their persistence in sunlit ice.

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