Optical properties of algogenic organic matter within the growth period of Chlorella sp. and predicting their disinfection by-product formation

Lap Cuong Hua, Jr Lin Lin, Ming Yang Syue, Ch-Hpin Huang*, Pei Chung Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Algogenic organic matter (AOM) in eutrophic waters is a well-known precursor to disinfection by-product (DBP) formation in drinking water. This purpose of this study is (i) to characterize the optical properties of AOM origins, including intra- (IOM) and extra-cellular organic matter (EOM), derived from Chlorella sp. growth as precursors to two major carbonaceous DBPs (C-DBPs), trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs) and (ii) to correlate these optical properties with THM and HAA formation potential (FP) in order to predict DBP formation. The results show that both EOM and IOM had low UV254 and UV280 absorbance during their entire growth phase. While IOM chiefly comprised of aromatic proteins and soluble microbial products-like substances (80% of average fluorescent intensity–AFI), EOM spectra were rich in humic- and fulvic-like substances (60% AFI). However, its chemical nature likely differed from terrestrial humics. In DBPFP tests, IOM was a higher-yielding precursor of THMs and HAAs compared to EOM, regardless its growth status. Consequently, C-DBPFP of IOM was always higher than EOM during four growth phases. Results from DBP tests also showed insignificant variation of EOM-derived THMFP and HAAFP during the algal growth phase, while the algal growth status strongly influenced the yields of IOM-derived THMFP and HAAFP. From correlation analysis, our results showed no correlation between UV absorbance with THMFP and HAAFP. Conversely, the regional AFI showed a good correlation with HAAFP and C-DBPFP. Predicting models based on AFI for the formation of HAAs and C-DBPs consequently yielded great predictability for laboratory AOM-containing water samples, with a coefficient of determination R2 = 0.879, p < 0.01 and R2 = 0.846, p < 0.01. This study indicates a promising application of fluorescent spectra for predicting DBPs derived from algae-rich water sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1467-1474
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2018


  • Algogenic organic matter
  • Chlorination
  • Disinfection byproducts
  • Eutrophication


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