Determination of heavy metal complexes with humic substances by HPLC/ICP-MS coupling using on-line isotope dilution technique
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An isotope dilution mass spectrometric (IDMS) method has been developed for the simultaneous determination of the complexes of 11 heavy metals (Ag, Cd, Cu, Mo, Ni, Pb, Tl, U, W, Zn and Zr) with humic substances (HS) by coupling HPLC with ICP-MS and applying the on-line isotope dilution technique. The HPLC separation was carried out with size exclusion chromatography. This HPLC/ICP-IDMS method was applied to samples from a brown water, ground water, sewage and seepage water as well as for a sample containing isolated fulvic acids. The total contents of heavy metals and of their complexes were analyzed in these samples with detection limits in the range of 5–110 ng/L. The analysis of heavy metal/HS complexes from the different waters resulted in characteristic fingerprints of the distribution pattern of heavy metals in the separated HS fractions. A comparison between the total heavy metal concentrations and their portions bound to humic substances showed distinct differences for the various metals. Simultaneous 12C detection was used for the characterization of HS complexes not identified by UV detection and for the determination of relative DOC concentrations of chromatographic peaks.
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