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Environ Sci Technol. 2001 Mar 15;35(6):1149-56.

Strong copper-binding behavior of terrestrial humic substances in seawater.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139, USA.


In coastal areas, strong complexation of copper generally reduces its toxicity; our ability to monitor and regulate copper as a toxin therefore depends on our understanding of the sources and sinks of the copper-binding ligands. Terrestrial humic substances (HS) are well-recognized contributors to weak ligand concentrations in aquatic systems. In this work, we show that HS are likely contributors to both stronger and weaker ligand classes controlling copper speciation in coastal areas receiving typical inputs of terrestrial organic matter. We used competitive ligand exchange adsorptive cathodic stripping voltammetry (CLE-ACSV), with the added ligands benzoylacetone and salicylaldoxime, to examine copper binding by terrestrial HS in a seawater matrix, at HS and copper concentrations typical of coastal waters. Copper titration data of 1 mg/L Suwannee River humic acid (SRHA) in seawater could be modeled using conditional stability constants of 10(12.0) and 10(10.0) and total ligand concentrations of 10.4 and 199 nM for a stronger and weaker ligand, respectively. Similar results were obtained for Suwannee River fulvic acid (SRFA). Strong copper binding by SRFA in seawater was weaker than previously reported for a freshwater at similar pH, possibly indicating effects of Ca and Mg competition or ionic strength. Nevertheless,the concentrations and binding strengths of copper ligands we observed are comparable to the range reported in previous coastal speciation studies. In addition, we show that the weaker copper ligands cause internal calibration techniques to significantly underestimate the sensitivity of ACSV in the presence of HS concentrations typical of coastal waters. To address this issue, we demonstrate the use of "overload titrations", using a high enough concentration of added ligand to outcompete all natural ligands as an alternative calibration technique for analysis of coastal samples.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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