Photochemistry of nitrite and nitrate in aqueous solution: A review

John Mack, James R. Bolton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

813 Citations (Scopus)


It has long been known that the photolysis of nitrite and nitrate solutions results in the formation of ·OH radicals. The mechanism of NO3- photolysis has been the subject of considerable controversy in the literature, however. This review summarizes the experimental work on NO2- and NO3- photolysis in the context of recent advances in the understanding of the chemistry of the peroxynitrite anion (ONOO-) in biological experiments. ONOO- has been found to play a far more significant role in the overall reaction mechanism of NO3- photolysis than had previously been suspected. Research on NO2- and NO3- photolysis, as a pathway to the destruction of organic contaminants in natural waters, is summarized. The possible impact of NO2- and NO3- on Advanced Oxidation Technologies (AOTs), in which ·OH radicals are used to initiate the destruction of hazardous organic pollutants in drinking water and industrial waste streams, is explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Photochemistry and Photobiology A: Chemistry
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 1999 Nov


  • AOT
  • Hydroxyl radical
  • Nitrate ion
  • Nitrite ion
  • Peroxynitrite
  • Photolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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