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APPLICATIONNOTE

UVTRANSMISSION
ANDUVABSORBANCEMETHODS

UVTransmission(UVT)&UVAbsorbance(A254)Methods

TheHachDR5000SpectrophotometerofferstwomethodsusingtheUV/254nmwavelengthfor
measuringorganicconstituentsinawatersample.Atfirstglance,themethodsappeartobe
complementarytoeachother.ThisistrueastheUV/254TransmissionMethod(UVT)measuresthelight
transmittedorpassedthroughasamplewhiletheUV/254AbsorbanceMethod(A254)measuresthe
amountofUVlightthatisabsorbedbythesample.1However,whilebothmethodsareoftenreferenced
asmeasuringorganicconstituents,theusemodelsforeachmethodhavedifferentapplicationsanditis
importanttounderstandthemeaninganduseofthevalueobtained.
Background
Whenlightispassedthroughasample,aportionofthelightisabsorbedorscatteredbysubstances
presentinthesample.Theamountoflightenergyexitingthesampleislessthantheinitialincidentlight
applied.

IncidentLight(Io)>>(IT)
Sample Detector

Thelightreachingthedetectoristhetransmittedlight(IT)ortransmittance.Theratioofthe
transmittedlight(IT)totheincidentlight(Io)isthetransmittance(T)expressedas%T.

IT
%T=100x
Io

UVTasusedinthisapplicationnotewillbeassumedtomeanthe%Tat254nmunlessspecificallynoted
otherwise.
Theincidentlightthatisabsorbedorscatteredbythesampleiscalledtheabsorbanceandexpressedas
(A).TheabsorbanceandtransmittancevaluesarerelatedbythelogarithmicequationofA=log10(1/T).
Todeterminewhichmethodtouse,oneneedstoaskifyouneedtomeasuretheamountoflightreaching
thedetector(typicalinaUVdisinfectionapplication)orifyouareinterestedinmeasuringtheproperties
ofthesamplethatareabsorbingthe254nmlight(typicalincontrollingdisinfectionbyproducts).

UVTransmissionMethodUVDisinfectionApplications
TheUVTransmissionMethod(UVT)isusedwherethereisaneedtomeasuretheamountoflight
reachingadetectororsensor.Forexample,thismethodwouldbeusedtodeterminetheUVlamp


outputsettingsoncontinuousflowUVreactors.TheUVTvalueisalsousedforthecompliance
monitoringofUVTanalyzercalibrationsandinthedeterminationofUVTwaterqualitycharacteristics
fordesigningUVtreatmentfacilities.2TheseapplicationsrequireUVTvaluesofthewatertoinsurethe
UVlightdosedeliveryissufficienttoinactivatepathogenicmicroorganismsandtoinsurethatUVT
analyzersareproperlycalibratedtoinsuretheanalyzersaccuratelymeasureandcontroltheintensityof
theUV/254lightbeingdelivered.Itisimportanttonotethatinthesetypesofunfilteredsamples,the
UVTvalueisdeterminedbythesamplecolor,turbidity,particlesandthesolubleorganicorinorganic
compoundspresentinthewater.Afulllistofinterferencesandadditionalprecautionsisgiveninthe
UV/254OrganicConstituentsUVTransmissionDR5000procedure.
UVAbsorbanceMethodDisinfectionByProductControl
TheUVAbsorbanceMethod(A254)iscommonlyusedtocharacterizetheorganicconstituentsinawater
sample.Researchhasshownthatorganiccompoundsabsorbingat254nmhaveagreatertendencyto
formchlorinateddisinfectionbyproducts(DBPs)whencontactedwithchlorineinthedisinfectionof
drinkingwater.SourcewaterscanbemonitoredwiththismethodtopredicttheDBPformation
potentialortosignalmajorchangesinsourcewaterquality.Withthismethodtheturbidityandparticles
inthewaterthatabsorborscatterthe254nmlightareremovedbyfirstfilteringthewaterthrougha
0.45micronfilterbeforemakingtheabsorbancemeasurement.Afulllistofinterferencesisgiveninthe
UV/254OrganicConstituentsUVAbsorbingDR5000procedure.ItisimportanttonotethatStandard
Method5610BcallsforadjustingthesamplepHbeforemeasuringtheA254absorbance.3However,when
theA254valueisusedforotherUVdisinfectionapplications,thewatersampleshouldbeanalyzed
withoutfilteringoradjustingthepH.
TheUV/254absorbancevalueisalsousedinthecalculationofSpecificUltravioletAbsorbance(SUVA).
SUVAisdefinedastheratiooftheA254/cmtothetotaldissolvedorganiccarbon(DOC)concentrationin
thefilteredsample.4TheDOCisdeterminedbyrunningaTotalOrganicCarbon(TOC)testonthefiltered
sample.
Abs(254)/cm
SUVA(L/mgM)= x100cm/M
DOC(mg/L)

TheSUVAvalueisameasureofthedissolvedorganiccarbonconcentrationavailabletolikelyform
disinfectionbyproductswhenchlorinated.Thevalueisalsousedtodeterminecompliancewiththe
Disinfection/DisinfectionByProductsRulerequirementsforremovingnaturalorganicmatter(NOM).5
NormalizationCalculation
Abs(254)andUVTmeasurementsarenormalizedtoonecmandexpressedasAbs(254)/cmor%UVT/cm
respectively.Thecmdesignationreferstothelengthofthequartzsamplecellpathlengthusedtomake
themeasurement.Measurementsmadeonhigherqualitywatersoftenhavelowabsorbanceorhigh
transmittancelevels.Longerpathlength5cmor10cmcellsareoftenusedtoobtainbetter
measurementsensitivityandaccuracy.TheDR5000methodprogramsautomaticallynormalizethe
linearabsorbanceandlogarithmictransmittancevaluestoequivalentAbs/cmor%UVT/cmvalues
respectively,whenthelongerpathlengthcellsareusedavoidingtheneedtomanuallydothe
normalizationcalculations.


References:
1
OrganicConstituentsUVAbsorbing(UV254),HachMethod10054;OrganicConstituentsUV
Transmission(UV254),HachMethod10243
2
UltravioletDisinfectionGuidanceManualForTheFinalLongTerm2EnhancedSurfaceWater
TreatmentRule,USEPA,November2006.
3
StandardMethodsfortheExaminationofWater&Wastewater,21stEdition,2005,Part5910B.
UltravioletAbsorptionMethod.
4
DeterminationofTotalOrganicCarbonandSpecificUVAbsorbanceat254nmInSourceWaterand
DrinkingWater,USEPADocument#:EPA/600/R05/055,Revision1.1February2005.
5
EnhancedCoagulationandEnhancedPrecipitativeSofteningGuidanceManual,USEPADocument#:
EPA815R99012,May1999,page29.

RevisedJanuary19,2011

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