Fluorescence-based monitoring of anthropogenic pollutant inputs to an urban stream in Southern California, USA.
The Science of the total environment
2020; 718: 137206
Fluorescence spectroscopy has been increasingly used to detect sewage and other anthropogenic contaminants in surface waters. Despite progress in successfully detecting bacterial and sewage inputs to rivers over diverse spatial scales, the use of fluorescence-based in-situ sensors to track contaminant inputs during storm events and to discern bacterial contamination from background natural organic matter (NOM) fluorescence have received less attention. A portable, submersible fluorometer equipped with tryptophan (TRP)-like and humic-like fluorescence sensors was used to track inputs of untreated wastewater added to natural creek water in a laboratory sewage spill simulation. Significant, positive correlations were observed between TRP fluorescence, the TRP:humic ratio, percent wastewater, and Escherichia coli concentrations, indicating that both the TRP sensor and the TRP:humic ratio tracked wastewater inputs against the background creek water DOM fluorescence. The portable fluorometer was subsequently deployed in an urban creek during a storm in 2018. The peak in TRP fluorescence was found to increase with the rising limb of the hydrograph and followed similar temporal dynamics to that of caffeine and fecal indicator bacteria, which are chemical and biological markers of potential fecal pollution. Results from this study demonstrate that tracking of TRP fluorescence intensity and TRP:humic ratios, with turbidity correction of sensor outputs, may be an appropriate warning tool for rapid monitoring of sewage or other bacterial inputs to aquatic environments.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137206
View details for PubMedID 32325614