Emergent contamination warning systems are critical to ensure drinking water supply security. After detecting the existence of contaminants, identifying the types of contaminants is conducive to taking remediation measures. An online classification method for contaminants, which explored abnormal fluctuation information and the correlation between 12 water quality indicators adequately, is proposed to realize comprehensive and accurate discrimination of contaminants. Firstly, the paper utilized multi-fractal detrended fluctuation analysis (MF-DFA) to select indicators with abnormal fluctuation, used multi-fractal detrended cross-correlation analysis (MF-DCCA) to measure the cross-correlation between indicators. Subsequently, the algorithm fused the abnormal probability of each indicator and constructed the abnormal probability matrix to further judge the abnormal fluctuation of indicators using D–S evidence theory. Finally, the singularity index of the cross-correlation function and the selected indicators were used to classification by cosine distance. Experiments of five chemical contaminants at three concentration levels were implemented, and analysis results show the method can weaken disturbance of water quality background noise and other interfering factors. It effectively improved the classification accuracy at low concentrations compared with another three methods, including methods using triple standard deviation threshold and single indicator fluctuation analysis-only methods without fluctuation analysis. This can be applied to water quality emergency monitoring systems to reduce contaminant misclassification.
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