The trace elements Sb, Be, and Tl in ground water and Sb, Be, Co, Mo, and U in surface water are unaffected by contamination. Limited quality control data (blanks) for Li and V in ground water and surface water do not allow for a good assessment on the potential contamination associated with these trace elements. Potential contamination was identified for Al, As, Ba, B, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Pb, Mn, Ni, Se, Ag, Sr, and Zn in ground water and surface water. Evidence of potential contamination was shown for Co, Mo, and U in ground water; potential contamination was shown for T1 in surface water. In comparing the potential contamination for these trace elements with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) drinking-water standards, the contamination for most of these trace elements is less than 10 percent of the drinking-water standard; therefore, contamination would have little or no effect when comparing trace element concentrations with the USEPA drinking-water standards. The exceptions are Al, Cd, and possibly Pb in ground water, and As and possibly Pb in surface water. Potential contamination identified for these trace elements is greater than 10 percent of the USEPA drinking-water standard, but affects only 5 percent or less of the As, Cd, and Pb samples. For most trace elements, the level of potential contamination is not large enough to significantly affect the measured concentration of the environmental sample. The exceptions may be Fe in ground water and Al in surface water, which have concentrations for at least 10 percent of the environmental samples that exceeded the USEPA drinking-water standards.
Sample variability for some of the trace elements could not be determined because there were either no detected concentrations, or there were less than 10 replicate sets with detected concentrations. These trace elements are Be, Ag, and Tl for ground water and Sb, Be, Cr, Co, Pb, Ag, and Tl for surface water. For most trace elements, sample variability was less than 10 percent, which would have little or no affect on the reported concentrations. The exceptions are Al, Cd, Cu, Pb, Rn (at concentrations less than about 700 picocuries per liter), Se, and Zn in ground water and Cu, Se, and Zn in surface water, all of which have sample variability ranging from 10 to 20 percent. Sample variability should be considered when evaluating the potential error associated with a sample measurement.
Collection of additional quality control samples for some of these trace elements to determine bias and variability is probably warranted particularly for those trace elements that the NAWQA Program did not begin sampling until 1998. Results obtained from the analysis of the quality control data can be applied to the interpretation of the environmental data collected from 1991 to 2002 and for water-quality data that are currently being collected as part of the NAWQA Program.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Review of Trace Element Blank and Replicate Data Collected in Ground and Surface Water for the National Water-Quality Assessment Program, 1991-2002