Interactions of humic acid with nanosized inorganic oxides.
Adsorption of natural organic matter (NOM) on nanoparticles (NPs) is important for evaluating their transport, transfer, and fate in the environment, which will also affect sorption of hydrophobic organic compounds (HOCs) by NPs and thereby potentially alter the toxicity of NPs and the fate, transport, and bioavailability of HOCs in the environment. Therefore, the adsorption behavior of humic acids (HA) by four types of nano-oxides (i.e., TiO2, SiO2, Al2O3, and ZnO) was examined in this study to explore their interaction mechanisms using techniques including Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and elemental, zeta potential, and surface area analyses. Adsorption of HA was observed on nanosized TiO2, Al2O3, and ZnO but not on nano-SiO2. Furthermore, HA adsorption was pH-dependent. HA adsorption by nano-oxides was mainly induced by electrostatic attraction and ligand exchange between HA and nano-oxide surfaces. Surface hydrophilicity and negative charges of nano-oxides affected their adsorption of HA. However, the maxima of HA adsorption on nano-oxides were limited by the surface area of nano-oxides. HA phenolic OH and COOH groups were responsible for its ligand exchange with nano-TiO2 and nano-ZnO, respectively, while either HA COOH or HA phenolic/aliphatic OH was responsible for its ligand exchange with nano-Al2O3. HA adsorption decreased the micropore surface area of nano-oxides but not the external surface area because of the micropore blockage. HA adsorption also decreased the zeta potential of nano-oxides, indicating that HA-coated nano-oxides could be more easily dispersed and suspended and more stable in solution than uncoated ones because of their enhanced electrostatic repulsion.