Hydroxyl radical formation from bacteria-assisted Fenton chemistry at neutral pH under environmentally relevant conditions

Jarod N. Grossman, Tara F. Kahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Environmental contextReactions in natural waters such as lakes and streams are thought to be extremely slow in the absence of sunlight (e.g. at night). We demonstrate that in the presence of iron, hydrogen peroxide and certain bacteria (all of which are common in natural waters), certain reactions may occur surprisingly quickly. These findings will help us predict the fate of many compounds, including pollutants, in natural waters at night. AbstractDark Fenton chemistry is an important source of hydroxyl radicals (OH•) in natural waters in the absence of sunlight. Hydroxyl radical production by this process is very slow in many bodies of water, owing to slow reduction and low solubility of FeIII at neutral and near-neutral pH. We have investigated the effects of the iron-reducing bacteria Shewanella oneidensis (SO) on OH• production rates from Fenton chemistry at environmentally relevant hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and iron concentrations at neutral pH. In the presence of 2.0 × 10-4M H2O2, OH• production rates increased from 1.3 × 10-10 to 2.0 × 10-10Ms-1 in the presence of 7.0 × 106cellsmL-1 SO when iron (at a concentration of 100M) was in the form of FeII, and from 3.6 × 10-11 to 2.2 × 10-10Ms-1 when iron was in the form of FeIII. This represents rate increases of factors of 1.5 and 6 respectively. We measured OH• production rates at a range of H2O2 concentrations and SO cell densities. Production rates depended linearly on both variables. We also demonstrate that bacteria-assisted Fenton chemistry can result in rapid degradation of aromatic pollutants such as anthracene. Our results suggest that iron-reducing bacteria such as SO may be important contributors to radical formation in dark natural waters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)757-766
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Chemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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