Metal interferences and their removal prior to the determination of As(T) and As(III) in acid mine waters by hydride generation atomic absorption spectrometry

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2003-4117
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Hydride generation atomic absorption spectrometry (HGAAS) is a sensitive and selective method for the determination of total arsenic (arsenic(III) plus arsenic(V)) and arsenic(III); however, it is subject to metal interferences for acid mine waters. Sodium borohydride is used to produce arsine gas, but high metal concentrations can suppress arsine production. This report investigates interferences of sixteen metal species including aluminum, antimony(III), antimony(V), cadmium, chromium(III), chromium(IV), cobalt, copper(II), iron(III), iron(II), lead, manganese, nickel, selenium(IV), selenium(VI), and zinc ranging in concentration from 0 to 1,000 milligrams per liter and offers a method for removing interfering metal cations with cation exchange resin. The degree of interference for each metal without cation-exchange on the determination of total arsenic and arsenic(III) was evaluated by spiking synthetic samples containing arsenic(III) and arsenic(V) with the potential interfering metal. Total arsenic recoveries ranged from 92 to 102 percent for all metals tested except antimony(III) and antimony(V) which suppressed arsine formation when the antimony(III)/total arsenic molar ratio exceeded 4 or the antimony(V)/total arsenic molar ratio exceeded 2. Arsenic(III) recoveries for samples spiked with aluminum, chromium(III), cobalt, iron(II), lead, manganese, nickel, selenium(VI), and zinc ranged from 84 to 107 percent over the entire concentration range tested. Low arsenic(III) recoveries occurred when the molar ratios of metals to arsenic(III) were copper greater than 120, iron(III) greater than 70, chromium(VI) greater than 2, cadmium greater than 800, antimony(III) greater than 3, antimony(V) greater than 12, or selenium(IV) greater than 1. Low recoveries result when interfering metals compete for available sodium borohydride, causing incomplete arsine production, or when the interfering metal oxidizes arsenic(III). Separation of interfering metal cations using cation-exchange prior to hydridegeneration permits accurate arsenic(III) determinations in acid mine waters containing high concentrations of interfering metals. Stabilization of the arsenic redox species for as many as 15 months is demonstrated for samples that have been properly filtered and acidified with HCl in the field. The detection limits for the method described in this report are 0.1 micrograms per liter for total arsenic and 0.8 micrograms per liter for arsenic(III).
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Metal interferences and their removal prior to the determination of As(T) and As(III) in acid mine waters by hydride generation atomic absorption spectrometry
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 2003-4117
DOI 10.3133/wri034117
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 20 p.
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