A comparison of simultaneous plasma, atomic absorption, and iron colorimetric determinations of major and trace constituents in acid mine waters

Water-Resources Investigations Report 93-4122
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Sixty-three water samples collected during June to October 1982 from the Leviathan/Bryant Creek drainage basin were originally analyzed by simultaneous multielement direct-current plasma (DCP) atomic-emission spectrometry, flame atomic-absorption spectrometry, graphite-furnace atomic-absorption spectrometry (GFAAS) (thallium only), ultraviolet-visible spectrometry, and hydride-generation atomic-absorption spectrometry.Determinations were made for the following metallic and semi-metallic constituents: AI, As, B, Ba, Be, Bi, Cd, Ca, Cr, Co, Cu, Fe(11), Fe(total), Li, Pb, Mg, Mn, Mo, Ni, K, Sb, Se, Si, Na, Sr, TI, V, and Zn. These samples were re-analyzed later by simultaneous multielement inductively coupled plasma (ICP) atomic-emission spectrometry and Zeeman-corrected GFAAS to determine the concentrations of many of the same constituents with improved accuracy, precision, and sensitivity. The result of this analysis has been the generation of comparative concentration values for a significant subset of the solute constituents. Many of the more recently determined values replace less-than-detection values for the trace metals; others constitute duplicate analyses for the major constituents. The multiple determinations have yielded a more complete, accurate, and precise set of analytical data. They also have resulted in an opportunity to compare the performance of the plasma-emission instruments operated in their respective simultaneous multielement modes. Flame atomic-absorption spectrometry was judged best for Na and K and hydride-generation atomic-absorption spectrometry was judged best for As because of their lower detection limit and relative freedom from interelement spectral effects. Colorimetric determination using ferrozine as the color agent was judged most accurate, precise, and sensitive for Fe. Cadmium, lead, and vanadium concentrations were too low in this set of samples to enable a determination of whether ICP or DCP is a more suitable technique. Of the remaining elements, Ba, Be, Ca, Cr, Mg, Mn, Sr, and Zn have roughly equivalent accuracy, precision, and detection limit by ICP and DCP. Cobalt and Ni were determined to be better analyzed by ICP, because of lower detection limits; B, Cu, Mo, and Si were determined to be better analyzed by DCP, because of relative freedom from interferences. The determination oral by DCP was far more sensitive, owing to the use of a more sensitive wavelength, compared with the ICP. However, there is a very serious potential interference from a strong Ca emission line near the 396.15 nanometer DCP wavelength. Thus, there is no clear choice between the plasma techniques tested, for the determination oral. The ICP and DCP detection limits are typically between 0.001 and 0.5 milligrams per liter in acid mine waters. For those metals best analyzed by ICP and/or DCP, but below these limits, GFAAS is the method of choice because of its relatively greater sensitivity and specificity. Six of the elements were not determined by DCP, ICP or Zeeman-corrected GFAAS, and are not discussed in this report. These elements are: Bi, Fe(11), Li, Sb, Se, and TI.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title A comparison of simultaneous plasma, atomic absorption, and iron colorimetric determinations of major and trace constituents in acid mine waters
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 93-4122
DOI 10.3133/wri934122
Year Published 1994
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description viii, 151 p.
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