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National Water Quality Laboratory

Friday December 15, 2017

USGS Open-File Report 98-165

Methods of Analysis by the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Laboratory — Determination of Elements in Whole-Water Digests Using Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectrometry and Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry

John R. Garbarino and Tedmund M. Struzeski


Inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) can be used to determine 26 elements in whole-water digests. Both methods have distinct advantages and disadvantages — ICP-OES is capable of analyzing samples with higher elemental concentrations without dilution, however, ICP-MS is more sensitive and capable of determining much lower elemental concentrations. Both techniques gave accurate results for spike recoveries, digested standard reference-water samples, and whole-water digests. Average spike recoveries in whole-water digests were 100±10 percent, although recoveries for digests with high dissolved-solid concentrations were lower for selected elements by ICP-MS. Results for standard reference-water samples were generally within 1 standard deviation of the most probable values. Statistical analysis of the results from 43 whole-water digests indicated that there was no significant difference among ICP-OES, ICP-MS, and former official methods of analysis for 24 of the 26 elements evaluated.

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