Molecular Transformation of Dissolved Organic Matter during the Processes of Wildfire, Alum Coagulation, and Disinfection Using ESI(−) and ESI(+) FT-ICR MS

Chen H., Uzun H., Tolić N., Chu R., Karanfil T., Chow A. T.

ACS ES and T Water, vol.3, no.8, pp.2571-2580, 2023 (ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 3 Issue: 8
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1021/acsestwater.3c00135
  • Journal Name: ACS ES and T Water
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus, BIOSIS
  • Page Numbers: pp.2571-2580
  • Keywords: alum coagulation, disinfection byproduct precursors, dissolved black nitrogen, FT-ICR MS, wildfire
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: No


Forest fires alter the quality of terrestrial dissolved organic matter (DOM) flushed into source water, which could be further changed during alum coagulation and serve as potential disinfection byproduct (DBP) precursors in water facilities. To unveil this molecular transformation, we applied 12T Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry on a controlled study which used the leachates of black and white ashes (collected immediately after the 2013 Rim Fire, CA) along with unburned white fir (Abies concolor) and ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa). Results showed that the assigned features in DOM from burned ashes had a smaller molecular weight (MW), contained more unsaturated, aromatic, and oxidized and less fraction of labile compounds, and were enriched with nitrogen, relative to unburned litters. After alum coagulation, we observed the disappeared features with higher MW and S/C and N/C atom ratios than the resistant features. During the following disinfections, the disappeared features serving as the potential DBP precursors had higher MW and unsaturation degree, contained more S- and N-containing functionalities, and were more aromatic, compared to the resistant features. Our study suggested organic compounds with small MW and high aromaticity as the targets for water facilities to improve post-fire drinking water quality.