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We have examined the generation of the reactive oxygen species (ROS) superoxide and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) by irradiation of dilute aqueous solutions of disodium anthraquinone-2-6-disulfonate (AQDS) with simulated sunlight. Irradiating a solution of AQDS in 2 mM NaHCO3 and 0.01 M NaCl produced superoxide and H2O2 at nanomolar concentrations. Experiments in which initial concentrations of dioxygen, H2O2, the superoxide radical trap nitroblue tetrazolium and the electron donor dimethyl sulfoxide were varied suggested that the interaction of solvent water with photo-excited quinone moieties produces dioxygen-reducing radicals, and that these are the primary source of ROS in the system. A kinetic model for ROS production is proposed based on our experimental data.