Environmental Chemistry Environmental Chemistry Society
Environmental problems - Chemical approaches
RESEARCH FRONT

Rate of Cd2+ Release from Dissolved Fulvic Acid and Natural Dissolved Organic Carbon as a Function of UVB Dose

R. Néron A B , J. C. Auclair A C and C. Fortin A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A INRS-Eau, Terre et Environment, Université du Québec, Québec, QC G1K 9A9, Canada.

B Present address: Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, St Laurent, QC H4R 1J6, Canada.

C Corresponding author. Email: auclair@ete.inrs.ca

Environmental Chemistry 3(6) 433-438 https://doi.org/10.1071/EN06053
Submitted: 21 September 2006  Accepted: 23 November 2006   Published: 13 December 2006

Environmental Context. Atmospheric ozone depletion results in an increase of UVB radiation impinging on the surface waters of aquatic ecosystems. Radiative absorption by dissolved humic substances results in bleaching and photochemical decomposition to smaller molecular weight dissolved components. With respect to the lake biota, this can reduce the effectiveness of a natural absorptive protective UV screen, as well as enrich the surface waters with microbial substrates and previously bound biologically unavailable trace metals. In controlled experiments using low-level Cd-contaminated dissolved fulvic acids and natural lakewater dissolved organic carbon, we examine the relationship between increasing UV dose and cadmium free-ion (Cd2+) concentrations.

Abstract. Using controlled UVB exposures in a laboratory incubator, the photolytic release of bound cadmium from cadmium-contaminated dissolved fulvic acid and cadmium-amended natural lakewater dissolved organic carbon was examined using an ion-exchange technique, developed to measure the cadmium free-ion concentration (Cd2+). In the fulvic acid experiments, with increasing UVB dose, the increasing cadmium free-ion concentration followed an exponential saturation function, whereas the decrease in dissolved organic carbon was linear. Experiments using natural lakewaters did not reveal any increase in Cd2+, even at high UVB exposures. Given the much greater dissolved iron concentration in humic natural lakewaters, relative to the fulvic acid medium, iron photoreduction and reoxidation produces fresh amorphous iron oxide surfaces. We hypothesize that these bind the cadmium free-ion, thus reducing its aqueous concentration. Depending on Cd2+ affinity to biological surfaces, this mechanism might thus competitively further protect the biota from trace metal toxicity.

Keywords. : bound residues — complexation — dissolved organic carbon — humic substances — UV radiation


Acknowledgements

We wish to thank D. R. S. Lean for the loan of his Optronics 754 spectrophotometer, and Francois Beauchamp who contributed to the development of the ion-exchange method. An anonymous reviewer significantly improved the manuscript. This research was supported by an NSERC Discovery Grant to JCA.


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