DOM optical parameters as a tool to understand degradation of phenolic contaminants of emerging concern

Emad Sanei, Itzel Marquez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Composition and source of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in water influence the rate of production of reactive intermediates (RIs), affecting the photodegradation of phenolic contaminants of emerging concern (PhCECs). However, this relationship has not been fully quantified. Here, for the first time, we propose a mechanism for photodegradation of a surrogate of PhCECs, p-cresol, in different DOM standard solutions under simulated sunlight irradiation. More importantly, the correlation of DOM optical parameters and p-cresol photodegradation kinetic parameters was determined by Pearson correlation. Results showed that indirect photodegradation was the only degradation pathway for p-cresol, mainly through reaction with excited triplet state of dissolved organic matter (3DOM*). Singlet oxygen (1O2) and hydroxyl radical (OH) hindered degradation of p-cresol by decreasing the steady state concentration of 3DOM*. Moreover, less aromatic and smaller molecular size DOM showed higher steady-state concentration and quantum yield of 1O2, and 3DOM*, resulting in faster p-cresol photodegradation. Finally, 7 out of 8 optical parameters showed strong correlation with the p-cresol photodegradation rate constant. The mechanism and correlations found are a potential tool to predict PhCECs photodegradation in water using DOM optical parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Article number139750
StatePublished - Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Contaminants of emerging concern
  • Optical parameters
  • Organic matter
  • Phenolic contaminants
  • Photoreactivity


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