ISSN 1214-0287 (on-line)
ISSN 1214-021X (printed)

Volume 3 (2005), No 1, p 13-24

Humic substances - compounds of still unknown structure: applications in agriculture, industry, environment, and biomedicine

Eladia M. Pena-Mendez, Josef Havel, Jiri Patocka

Address: Eladia M. Pena-Mendez, Department of Analytical Chemistry, Nutrition and Food Science, Faculty of Chemistry, University of La Laguna, 38071 La Laguna, Spain

Received 20th September 2004.
Revised 20th October 2004.
Published online 22nd November 2004.

Full text article (pdf)

Humic substances as part of humus-soil organic matter - are compounds arising from the physical, chemical and microbiological transformation (humification) of biomolecules. They are important because they constitute the most ubiquitous source of non-living organic material that nature knows. Approximately 80% of the total carbon in terrestrial media and 60% of the carbon dissolved in aquatic media are made up of humic substances. Humic substances have important roles in soil fertility, and are considered to have primal relevance for the stabilization of soil aggregates. They can be divided into three components according to their solubility: humic acids, fulvic acids and humin. Humic acids are the most explored group of humic substances. Beyond their relevance for life these substances have industrial applications in the development of absorbents to be used at the sources of metal-poisoning. Being natural substances, their purification process is cheaper than the synthesis of any other sorbent and, moreover, due to their high operability, they absorb more than the absorbents used to date, such as active charcoals or clays. The specific properties of humic acid products enable their application in industry, agriculture, environmental and biomedicine.

humification; humin; humic acids; fulvic acids

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