Addition of a series of phenol electron donors to solutions of humic substances (HS) enhanced substantially the initial rates of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) photoproduction (RH2O2), with enhancement factors (EF) ranging from a low of ?3 for 2,4,6-trimethylphenol (TMP) to a high of ?15 for 3,4-dimethoxyphenol (DMOP). The substantial inhibition of the enhanced RH2O2 following borohydride reduction of the HS, as well as the dependence of RH2O2 on phenol and dioxygen concentrations are consistent with a mechanism in which the phenols react with the triplet excited states of (aromatic) ketones within the HS to form initially a phenoxy and ketyl radical. The ketyl radical then reacts rapidly with dioxygen to regenerate the ketone and form superoxide (O2(-)), which subsequently dismutates to H2O2. However, as was previously noted for the photosensitized loss of TMP, the incomplete inhibition of the enhanced RH2O2 following borohydride reduction suggests that there may remain another pool of oxidizing triplets. The results demonstrate that H2O2 can be generated through an additional pathway in the presence of sufficiently high concentrations of appropriate electron donors through reaction with the excited triplet states of aromatic ketones and possibly of other species such as quinones. However, in some cases, the much lower ratio of H2O2 produced to phenol consumed suggests that secondary reactions could alter this ratio significantly.
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