Natural Organic Matter (NOM) in Aquatic Systems: Interactions with Radionuclides (234Th (IV), 129 I) and Biofilms
A series of laboratory and field investigations were carried out to elucidate the importance of natural organic matter in aquatic systems, i.e., trace element scavenging (e.g., 234Th) by exopolymeric substances (EPS), formation of biofilms, as well as interactions with 129I. A method involving cross flow ultrafiltration, followed by a three-step cartridge soaking and stirred-cell diafiltration, was developed for isolating EPS from phytoplankton cultures, especially in seawater media. EPS isolated from a marine diatom, Amphora sp. was then subjected to semi-quantitative (e.g., carbohydrate, proteins) and quantitative analysis (e.g., neutral sugars, acidic sugars, sulfate). It appeared that Th (IV) binding by EPS was dominated by the acidic polysaccharides of fraction. For EPS of biofilms collected from polluted streams, hydrophobic proteins were the most abundant components in EPS, followed by more hydrophilic carbohydrates. However, chemical composition of carbohydrates or proteins, i.e., monosaccharides and amino acids, respectively, varied with environmental conditions and substrata applied, which suggests that the formation of biofilms on different substrates is regulated by specific properties of microorganisms, environmental conditions and nature of substratum. No correlation between relative hydrophobicity of substratum and development of biofilm was found in this study. A sensitive and rapid GC-MS method was developed to enable the determination of isotopic ratios (129I/127I) of speciated iodine in natural waters. At the F-area of the Savannah River Site (SRS), iodine species in the groundwater consisted of 48.8 percent iodide, 27.3 percent iodate and 23.9 percent organo-iodine. Each of these iodine species exhibited vastly different transport behavior in the column experiments using surface soil from the SRS. Results demonstrated that mobility of iodine species depended greatly on the iodine concentration, mostly due to the limited sorptive capacity for anions of the soil. EPS, especially enzymes (e.g., haloperoxidases) could facilitate the incorporation of iodide to natural organic carbon. At high input concentrations of iodate (78.7 ?M), iodate was found to be completely reduced and subsequently followed the transport behavior of iodide. The marked reduction of iodate was probably associated with natural organic carbon and facilitated by bacteria, besides inorganic reductants (e.g., Fe2 ) in sediments and pore water.