Hexavalent chromium Cr(VI) is a notorious ground water contaminant toxic to humans and animals. Assessment of an exposure risk for aquatic receptors necessitates frequent Cr(VI) concentration data from a range of surface and groundwater locations at Cr(VI) contamination sites. In this work, we demonstrate that enhanced ultraviolet–visible (UV-vis) spectroscopy using a liquid waveguide capillary cell (LWCC) offers an easy-to-use and economical methodology for the determination of chromate anion CrO<sub>4</sub><sup>2−</sup> in Hanford natural waters without chemical pretreatment and generation of hazardous waste. Direct determination of CrO<sub>4</sub><sup>2−</sup> in actual surface and ground water samples with the complexities of competing ions, dissolved organics, and other potential interfering agents was achieved by measuring the chromate optical absorbance at 372 nm. For a 100 cm path length LWCC, the detection limit for chromate was found to be as low as 0.073 ppb. A quantitative relationship between the intensity of the absorbance signal and water pH allowed for the straightforward calculation of total Cr(VI) content in natural water. The described method is applicable for in-field monitoring of Cr(VI) in environmental water samples at trace levels.

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