Impact of particle aggregated microbes on UV disinfection. II: Proper absorbance measurement for UV fluence

Hadas Mamane, Karl G. Linden*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ultraviolet (UV) absorbance measurements are subject to significant error using a standard spectrophotometer when particles or aggregates that scatter light are present. True UV absorbance for highly turbid waters should be measured using integrating sphere (IS) spectrophotometry that allows the collection of reflected and transmitted radiation simultaneously. This is especially important when the effects of scattering impact UV disinfection-such as with the presence of aggregates. The impact of light scattering of particle-aggregated microbes on UV disinfection was evaluated by comparing standard spectrophotometer and integrating sphere absorbance measurements for UV fluence determination. Spore-clay aggregates in simulated drinking waters and spore aggregates with natural particles from raw waters were induced by flocculation with alum. Coagulated systems significantly decreased the UV inactivation effectiveness compared to the noncoagulated system with the effects more pronounced for raw natural water. Absorbance measurement of suspensions and aggregates using standard spectrophotometry in the calculations of fluence resulted in overdosing whereas the use of IS spectroscopy did not. The results demonstrated that aggregation protected spores from UV disinfection, and that use of proper absorbance measurement techniques, accounting for particle scattering, is essential for correct interpretation of the results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)607-615
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Engineering, ASCE
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Disinfection
  • Measurement
  • Microbes
  • Particles
  • Reactors
  • Ultraviolet radiation


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