Measurement of protein-like fluorescence in river and waste water using a handheld spectrophotometer

A. Baker, D. Ward, S. H. Lieten, Ryan Pereira, E. C. Simpson, M. Slater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


Protein-like fluorescence intensity in rivers increases with increasing anthropogenic DOM inputs from sewerage and farm wastes. Here, a portable luminescence spectrophotometer was used to investigate if this technology could be used to provide both field scientists with a rapid pollution monitoring tool and process control engineers with a portable waste water monitoring device, through the measurement of river and waste water tryptophan-like fluorescence from a range of rivers in NE England and from effluents from within two waste water treatment plants. The portable spectrophotometer determined that waste waters and sewerage effluents had the highest tryptophan-like fluorescence intensity, urban streams had an intermediate tryptophan-like fluorescence intensity, and the upstream river samples of good water quality the lowest tryptophan-like fluorescence intensity. Replicate samples demonstrated that fluorescence intensity is reproducible to +/-20% for low fluorescence, 'clean' river water samples and +/-5% for urban water and waste waters. Correlations between fluorescence measured by the portable spectrophotometer with a conventional bench machine were 0.91; (Spearman's rho, n = 143), demonstrating that the portable spectrophotometer does correlate with tryptophan-like fluorescence intensity measured using the bench spectrophotometer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2934-2938
Number of pages5
JournalWater Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004


  • fluorescence
  • waste water
  • river water quality
  • sewage
  • luminescence
  • spectrophotometry
  • TOOL


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