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Microgram amounts of phosphate are usually determined by the molybdenum blue reaction, but this reaction is not specific for phosphorus. The research established the range of conditions under which phosphate, arsenate, silicate, and germanate give the molybdenum blue reaction for differentiating these elements, and developed a method for the determination of phosphate in waters containing up to 10 p.p.m. of the oxides of germanium, arsenic(V), and silicon. With stannous chloride or 1-amino-2-naphthol-4-sulfonic acid as the reducing agent no conditions were found for distinguishing silicate from germanate and phosphate from arsenate. In the recommended procedure the phosphate is concentrated by coprecipitation on aluminum hydroxide, and coprecipitated arsenic, germanium, and silicon are volatilized by a mixture of hydrofluoric, hydrochloric, and hydrobromic acids prior to the determination of phosphate. The authors are able to report that the total phosphorus content of several samples of sea water from the Gulf of Mexico ranged from 0.018 to 0.059 mg. of phosphorus pentoxide per liter of water.
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Molybdenum blue reaction and determination of phosphorus in waters containing arsenic, silicon, and germanium