Fluorescence Excitation-Emission Matrix Regional Integration to Quantify Spectra for Dissolved Organic Matter

Wen Chen, Paul Westerhoff, Jerry A. Leenheer, Karl Booksh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4878 Scopus citations


Excitation-emission matrix (EEM) fluorescence spectroscopy has been widely used to characterize dissolved organic matter (DOM) in water and soil. However, interpreting the >10,000 wavelength-dependent fluorescence intensity data points represented in EEMs has posed a significant challenge. Fluorescence regional integration, a quantitative technique that integrates the volume beneath an EEM, was developed to analyze EEMs. EEMs were delineated into five excitation-emission regions based on fluorescence of model compounds, DOM fractions, and marine waters or freshwaters. Volumetric integration under the EEM within each region, normalized to the projected excitation-emission area within that region and dissolved organic carbon concentration, resulted in a normalized region-specific EEM volume (Φi,n). Solid-state carbon nuclear magnetic resonance (13C NMR), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) analysis, ultraviolet-visible absorption spectra, and EEMs were obtained for standard Suwannee River fulvic acid and 15 hydrophobic or hydrophilic acid, neutral, and base DOM fractions plus nonfractionated DOM from wastewater effluents and rivers in the southwestern United States. DOM fractions fluoresced in one or more EEM regions. The highest cumulative EEM volume (ΦT,n = ΣΦi,n) was observed for hydrophobic neutral DOM fractions, followed by lower ΦT,n values for hydrophobic acid, base, and hydrophilic acid DOM fractions, respectively. An extracted wastewater biomass DOM sample contained aromatic protein- and humic-like material and was characteristic of bacterial-soluble microbial products. Aromatic carbon and the presence of specific aromatic compounds (as indicated by solid-state 13C NMR and FTIR data) resulted in EEMs that aided in differentiating wastewater effluent DOM from drinking water DOM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5701-5710
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 15 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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