• Nitrogen heterocycles;
  • Binding constant;
  • Fluorescence quenching;
  • Hydrophobicity


The binding constants (KDOC) of the mixture of benzo[h]quinoline and its protonated analog, benzo[h]quinolinium, to four types of humic substances obtained from the International Humic Substances Society were determined by the fluorescence quenching method. A simple mixing model was used to eliminate the fluorescent interference from the minor analog in the solution and to deduce Kmix, which represents the overall binding as the sum of that for the individual analogs. The characteristics of humic substances, especially their hydrophobicity and aromaticity, established by principal component analysis of structural and elemental compositions, were the main determinants of the binding affinity with both benzo[h]quinoline and benzo[h]quinolinium (KBQ and equation image) across a range of pH values. The strongest overall affinity of benzo[h]quinoline for humic substances is observed near pH 4 and with more hydrophobic humic substances, which suggests possible choices in attempts at remediation of benzo[h]quinoline containing particles with humic substances. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012;31:246–252. © 2011 SETAC