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Environ Sci Technol. 2002 Feb 15;36(4):742-6.

Fluorescence inner-filtering correction for determining the humification index of dissolved organic matter.

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Department of Plant, Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of Maine, Orono 04469-5722, USA.


The use of fluorescence spectrometry has been suggested as a simple method to determine the extent of natural organic matter humification by quantifying the red-shifting of fluorescence emission that occurs with increasing humification. Humification indices are calculated by dividing fluorescence intensity at longer wavelengths by intensity at shorter wavelengths. These indices calculated without any specific efforts to standardize dissolved organic matter (DOM) concentration will result in index values thatvary with DOM concentration due to fluorescence innerfiltering effects. This study critically evaluated the effect of DOM concentration on humification index determination using organic matter isolated from field corn extract, soil: water extract, and soil fulvic acid. The results show that humification index values are sensitive to DOM concentration of the solution and are linear with respect to transmittance of the solution at the 254 nm used as the excitation wavelength. An approximate correction for DOM is to exploit the linear nature of the regression fit and to determine index values at the extrapolated 100% transmittance value. An exact correction using explicit correction factors for both primary and secondary innerfiltration effects was shown to give humification index values that are concentration invariant when absorbance of the solution at 254 nm was less than approximately 0.3 unit. Defining the humification index as the fluorescence intensity in the 300-345 nm region divided by the sum of intensity in the 300-345 nm and 435-480 nm regions was statistically advantageous. This study suggests that for quantitative results which can be used to compare humification of natural organic matter across different studies, correction of the fluorescence emission spectra for innerfiltration effects is needed.

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