The present invention provides a method for oxidizing a substance (e.g., in a waste stream, drinking water, a paper pulp slurry, or on a surface), which uses free radicals and reactive species generated from multiple oxidants. The method comprises combining peroxynitrite or peroxynitrous acid and at least one additional oxidizing agent for a period of time sufficient to oxidize the substance of interest. The peroxynitrite or peroxynitrous acid preferably is formed by irradiation of nitrate ion and/or nitric acid (e.g., with UV or gamma rays). The yield of free radicals and reactive species, which are the intermediate species that perform the oxidation may be increased by addition of a catalysts, electromagnetic radiation, sonic waves, and/or electrolysis.
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENT INTEREST
 This invention was made with governmental support under education grant number EW 1001208 from the United States Department of Energy. The United States government has certain rights in this invention.