Ion chromatography is a rapid, sensitive, precise, and accurate method for the determination of major anions in rainwater and surface waters. Simultaneous analyses of a single sample for bromide, chloride, fluoride, nitrate, nitrite, orthophosphate, and sulfate require approximately 20 minutes to obtain a chromatogram. Minimum detection limits range from 0.01 mg/L for fluoride to 0.20 mg/L for chloride and sulfate. Relative standard deviations were less than 9% for all anions except nitrite in Standard Reference Water Samples. Only one reference sample contained nitrite and its concentration was near the minimum level of detection. Similar precision was found for chloride, nitrate, and sulfate at concentrations less than 5 mg/L in rainfall samples. Precision for fluoride ranged from 12 to 22%, but is attributed to the low concentrations in these samples. The other anions were not detected. To determine accuracy of results, several samples were spiked with known concentrations of fluoride, chloride, nitrate, and sulfate; recoveries ranged from 96 to 103%. Known amounts of bromide and phosphate were added, separately, to several other waters, which contained bromide or phosphate. Recovery of added bromide and phosphate ranged from approximately 95 to 104%. No recovery data were obtained for nitrite. Chloride, nitrate, nitrite, orthophosphate, and sulfate, in several samples, were also determined independently by automated colorimetric procedures. An automated ion-selective electrode method was used to determine fluoride. Results are in agreement with results obtained by ion chromatography. (USGS).
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USGS Numbered Series
Determination of selected anions in water by ion chromatography