National Research Program


Behavior of Natural Polyelectrolytes in Water

Natural organic polyelectrolytes are highly active materials that are present in practically all natural water systems. They interact with both organic and inorganic pollutants and nutrients, influencing, and in many instances, controlling the toxicity, rate of movement, persistence and rate of degradation of the pollutants and nutrients in aquatic environments. Detailed knowledge of the chemistry of natural organic polyelectrolytes is therefore of primary importance in understanding the chemical changes that affect all of the components of natural water systems. Organic polyelectrolytes are partially eliminated from drinking water by coagulation and chlorination; however, the products of chlorination are not known. Both natural and synthetic organic compounds are present in all natural waters. Some of these compounds are toxic or mutagenic and it is therefore important that they be identified and quantified in surface and ground water and in precipitation. Objectives include (1) isolation of the various organic polyelectrolytes present in natural water systems from different environments; (2) determination of the physical and chemical properties of the most abundant organic polyelectrolytes; (3) elucidation of the mechanisms of interaction of pollutants with natural organic polyelectrolytes; (4) elucidation of the mechanism of interaction of natural organic polyelectrolytes with mineral surfaces; (5) development of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopic methods for the characterization of humic substances; (6) determination and characterization of selected organic pollutants in ground water; (7) elucidation of the mechanisms of humification in natural systems; (8) identification of diagnostic NMR bands of different functional groups found in natural organic polyelectrolytes; (9) characterization of the nitrogen containing species in natural organic polyelectrolytes; and (10) identification of the carbohydrates in humic substances.

REPORTS PUBLISHED 2002-2004

Shore, L., and Wershaw, R., 2009, Organic Compounds Used in Animal Husbandry, in Shore, L.S., and Amy Pruden, A., eds., Hormones and Pharmaceuticals Generated by Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations-Transport in Water and Soil, New York, Springer, p. 115-123.

Laird, D.A., Chappell, M.A., Martens, D.A., Wershaw, R.L., and Thompson, M., 2008, Distinguishing black carbon from biogenic humic substances in soil clay fractions: Geoderma v. 143, no. 1-2, p. 115-122. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Reeves, III, J. B., McCarty, G. W., Rutherford, D. W., and Wershaw, R.L., 2008,  Mid-infrared diffuse reflectance spectroscopic (DRIFTS) examination of charred pine wood, bark cellulose and lignin: implications for the quantitative determination of charcoal in soils: Applied Spectroscopy, v. 62, no. 2, 182-189. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Rutherford, D.W., Wershaw, R.L., and Reeves III, J.B., 2008, Development of acid functional groups and lactones during the thermal degradation of wood and wood components: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5013, 43 p. (on-line abstract or on-line report in pdf format, 3.8 MB)

Reeves, III, J. B., McCarty, G. W., Rutherford, D. W., and  Wershaw, R.L., 2007, Near-infrared spectroscopic examination of charred pine wood, bark, cellulose and lignin: Implications for the quantitative determination of charcoal in soils by NIRS: Journal of Near-Infrared Spectroscopy, v. 15, p. 307-315. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Thorn, K.A., Thorne, P.G., Cox, L.G., 2004, Alkaline hydrolysis/polymerization of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene: Characterization of products by 13C and 15N NMR: Environmental Science and Technology, v. 38, no. 7, p. 2224-2231. (on-line abstract)

Rutherford, D.W.; Wershaw, R.L.; Cox, L.G., 2004, Changes in composition and porosity occurring during the thermal degradation of wood and wood components: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigation Report 2004-5292, 88 p. (on-line report)

Weiss, J.M., McKay, A.J., DeRito, C., Watanabe, C., Thorn, K.A., and Madsen, E.L., 2004, Development and application of pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry for the analysis of bound 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene residues in soil: Environmenatal Science and Technology, v. 38, no. 7, p. 2167-2174. (on-line abstract)

Wershaw, R.L., 2004, Evaluation of conceptual models of natural organic matter (Humus) from a consideration of the chemical and biochemical processes of humification: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigation Report 2004-5121, 44 p. (on-line report and on-line report in pdf format, 784 kb)

Bednar, A.J., Garbarino, J.R., Ferrer, I., Rutherford, D.W., Wershaw, R.L., Ranville, J.F., and Wildeman, T.R., 2003, Photodegradation of roxarsone in poultry litter leachates: The Science of the Total Environment, v. 302, p. 237-245. (on-line abstract)

Garbarino, J.R., Bednar, A.J., Rutherford, D.W., Beyer, R.S., and Wershaw, R.L., 2003, Environmental fate of Roxarsone in poultry litter. I. Degradation of Roxarsone during composting: Environmental Science and Technology, v. 37, no. 8, p. 1509-1514. (on-line abstract)

Leenheer, J.A., Wershaw, R.L., Brown, G.K., and Reddy, M.M., 2003, Characterization and diagenesis of strong-acid carboxyl groups in humic substances: Applied Geochemistry, v. 18, p. 471-482. (on-line abstract)

Pennington, J.C., Thorn, K.A., Hayes, C.A.,  Porter, B.E., and Kennedy, K.R., 2003, Immobilization of 2,4- and 2,6-Dinitrotoluenes in Soils and Compost: ERDC/EL TR-03-2, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS. (on-line report in pdf format, 3716 KB)

Qualls, R.G., Takiyama, A., and Wershaw, R.L., 2003, Formation and loss of humic substances during decomposition in a pine forest floor: Soil Science Society of America Journal, v. 67, no. 3, p. 899-909. (on-line abstract)

Rutherford, D.W., Bednar, A.J., Garbarino, J.R., Needham, R.,. Staver, K.W., and Wershaw , R.L., 2003, Environmental fate of Roxarsone in poultry litter. Part II. Mobility of arsenic in soils amended with poultry litter: Environmental Science and Technology, v. 37, no. 8, p. 1515-1520. (on-line abstract)

Thorn, K.A., Rostad, C.E., and Noyes, T.I., 2003, Isolation and characterization of colloids, in Schroeder, R.A., ed., Water-quality changes and organic-carbon characterization during recharge with recycled water at a research basin in Montebello Forebay, Los Angeles, California, 1991-1996: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 03-4146, chapt. 7, p. 61-77. (on-line report in pdf format)

Thorn, K.A., and Younger, S.J., 2003, Characterization of Dissolved Organic Matter by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometry, Chapter 10, in Schroeder, R.A., ed., Water-Quality Changes and Organic-Carbon Characterization During Recharge with Recycled Water at a Research Basin in Montebello Forebay, Los Angeles, California: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 03-4146, chapt. 10, p. 102-108. (on-line report in pdf format)

Wershaw, R.L., Rutherford, D.W., Leenheer, J.A., Kennedy, K.R., Cox, L.G., and Koci, D.R., 2003, Biogeochemical processes that produce dissolved organic matter from wheat straw: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigation Report 03-4213. (on-line abstract or report)

Wershaw, R.L., Rutherford, D.W., Rostad, C.E., Garbarino, J.R., Ferrer, I., Kennedy, K.R., Momplaisir, G., Grange, A., 2003, Mass spectrometric identification of an azobenzene derivative produced by smectite-catalyzed conversion of 3-amino-4-hydroxyphenylar-sonic acid: Talanta, v. 59, no. 6, p. 1219-1226. (on-line abstract)

Thorn, K.A., 2002, Reduction and incorporation of nitrate nitrogen into aquatic NOM upon UV irradiation examined by N-15 NMR: Division of Environmental Chemistry, 223rd American Chemical Society National Meeting, Orlando, Fla, April 7-11, 2002, v. 42, no. 1, p. 537-542.

Thorn, K.A., and Kennedy, K.R., 2002, 15N NMR Investigation of the covlaent binding and reduced TNT amines to soil humic acid, model compounds, and lignocellulose: Environmental Science and Technology, v. 36, no. 17, p. 3787-3796. (on-line abstract) or on-line pdf file - published by the American Chemical Society; not subject to U.S. copyright.)

Thorn, K.A., , Pennington, J.C., and Hayes, C.A., 2002, 15N NMR Investigation of the reduction and binding of TNT in aerobic bench scale reactor simulating windrow composting: Environmental Science and Technology, v. 36, no. 17, p. 3797-3805. (on-line abstract)

Thorn, K.A., , Pennington, J.C., Hayes, C.A., and Porter, B.E., 2002, Immobilization of 2,4- and 2,6-dinitrotoluene in compost investigated by N-15 NMR: Division of Environmental Chemistry, 224th American Chemical Society National Meeting, Boston, Mass., August 18-22, 2002, v. 42, no. 2, p. 127-135.

Wershaw, R.L., 2002, Establishment of a web-based NOM forum for the rapid publication and discussion of extended abstracts: Proceedings of the International Humic Substances Society Twentieth Anniversary Conference-Humic Substances: Nature's Most Versatile Materials, Boston, Northeastern University, p. 7.

Wershaw, R.L., and Kennedy, K.R., 2002, Characterization of wheat straw-derived DOM: Pro Proceedings of the International Humic Substances Society Twentieth Anniversary Conference—Humic Substances: Nature's Most Versatile Materials, Boston, Northeastern University, p. 87-89.


FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THIS PROJECT, CONTACT:
Robert L. Wershaw, Scientist Emeritus
P.O. Box 25046, ms408, Denver Federal Center, Lakewood, CO
Email: rwershaw@usgs.gov

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