Abstract

A convenient method is described for monitoring Cd, Ni, Cu, and Pb at trace levels in drinking water samples. These metals are preconcentrated on a chelating solid-phase extraction disk and then determined by X-ray fluorescence spectrometry. The method tolerates a wide pH range (pH 6–14) and a large amount of alkaline and alkaline earth elements. The preconcentration factor is well over 1600, assuming a 1 L water sample volume. The limits of detection for Cd, Ni, Cu, and Pb are 3.8, 0.6, 0.4, and 0.3 ng/mL, respectively. These are well below the federal maximum contaminant level values, which are 5, 100, 1300, and 15 ng/mL, respectively. The proposed method has many advantages including ease of operation, multielement capability, nondestructiveness, high sensitivity, and relative cost efficiency. The solid-phase extraction step can be conducted in the field and then the disks can be mailed to a laboratory for the analysis, eliminating the cost of transporting large volumes of water samples. Furthermore, the color of the used extraction disk provides an initial estimate of the degree of contamination for some transition metals (for example, Ni and Cu). Thus, the overall cost for analysis of metals in drinking water can be minimized by implementing the method, and small water supply companies with limited budgets will be better able to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act.

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