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Anions by Ion Chromatography

Category Environmental Chemistry Lab Services
Test Anions by Ion Chromatography


This method addresses the sequential determination of the anions chloride, fluoride, bromide, nitrate, nitrite, phosphate, and sulfate in the collection solutions from the bomb combustion of solid waste samples, as well as all water samples.

The method detection limit (MDL), the minimum concentration of a substance that can be measured and reported with 99% confidence that the value is above zero, varies for anions as a function of sample size and the conductivity scale used. Generally, minimum detectable concentrations are in the range of 0.05 mg/L for F- and 0.1 mg/L for Br-, Cl-, N03-, N02-, PO43-, and SO42- with a 100-µL sample loop and a 10-µmho full-scale setting on the conductivity detector. Similar values may be achieved by using a higher scale setting and an electronic integrator. Idealized detection limits of an order of magnitude lower have been determined in reagent water by using a 1-µ

mho/cm full-scale setting (Table 1). The upper limit of the method is dependent on total anion concentration and may be determined experimentally. These limits may be extended by appropriate dilution.



A small volume of combustate collection solution or other water sample, typically 2 to 3 mL, is injected into an ion chromatograph to flush and fill a constant volume sample loop. The sample is then injected into a stream of carbonate-bicarbonate eluent of the same strength as the collection solution or water sample.

2.2 The sample is pumped through three different ion exchange columns and into a conductivity detector. The first two columns, a precolumn or guard column and a separator column, are packed with low-capacity, strongly basic anion exchanger. Ions are separated into discrete bands based on their affinity for the exchange sites of the resin. The last column is a suppressor column that reduces the background conductivity of the eluent to a low or negligible level and converts the anions in the sample to their corresponding acids. The separated anions in their acid form are measured using an electrical-conductivity cell. Anions are identified based on their retention times compared to known standards. Quantitation is accomplished by measuring the peak height or area and comparing it to a calibration curve generated from known standards.

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