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Degradation of organic pollutants in/on snow and ice by singlet molecular oxygen (¹O₂*) and an organic triplet excited state.


Singlet molecular oxygen (¹O₂*) can be a significant sink for a variety of electron-rich pollutants in surface waters and atmospheric drops. We recently found that ¹O₂* concentrations are enhanced by up to a factor of 10(4) on illuminated ice compared to in the equivalent liquid solution, suggesting that ¹O₂* could be an important oxidant for pollutants in snow. To examine this, here we study the degradation of three model organic pollutants: furfuryl alcohol (to represent furans), tryptophan (for aromatic amino acids), and bisphenol A (for phenols). Each compound was studied in illuminated aqueous solution and ice containing Rose Bengal (RB, a sensitizer for ¹O₂*) and sodium chloride (to adjust the concentration of total solutes). The RB-mediated loss of each organic compound is enhanced on illuminated ice compared to in solution, by factors of 6400 for furfuryl alcohol, 8300 for tryptophan, and 50 for bisphenol A for ice containing 0.065 mM total solutes. Rates of loss of furfuryl alcohol and tryptophan decrease at a higher total solute concentration, in qualitative agreement with predictions from freezing-point depression. In contrast, the loss of bisphenol A on ice is independent of total solute concentration. Relative to liquid tests, the enhanced loss of tryptophan on ice during control experiments made with deoxygenated solutions and solutions in D₂O show that the triplet excited state of Rose Bengal may also contribute to loss of pollutants on ice.

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