Humic acid complexation of basic and neutral polycyclic aromatic compounds

K. G. Karthikeyan, Jon Chorover

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Complexation by humic acid (HA) of basic (quinoline) and neutral (naphthalene) polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) was compared using fluorescence spectroscopy and equilibrium dialysis (ED). These compounds sorb to HA via cation exchange and hydrophobic interactions, respectively. Ionization of quinoline strongly affects its sorption to HA; maximum sorption is observed at pH close to log Kb (4.92), and competition with H+ and electrolyte cation (Li+) is evident. Spectroscopic experiments indicate that quinolinium (QH+) cation fluorescence is quenched via a static mechanism (i.e., a dark complex is formed) when the protonated form is adsorbed via ion exchange to HA. The extent of sorption, calculated from fluorescence data using the Stern-Volmer equation, was compared to independent ED measurements. Although both methods indicated the same trends with solution chemistry, fluorescence quenching data suggested more extensive complexation than that measured using ED. In contrast to ionizable PACs, studied here and previously, interaction of naphthalene with HA is unaffected by changes in solution conditions (pH, ionic strength).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)955-964
Number of pages10
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2002


  • Complexation
  • Dialysis
  • Fluorescence spectroscopy
  • Naphthalene
  • Quinoline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • General Chemistry
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Humic acid complexation of basic and neutral polycyclic aromatic compounds'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this