The Science of the total environment

Application of ICP-OES for evaluating energy extraction and production wastewater discharge impacts on surface waters in Western Pennsylvania.

PMID 26005746


Oil and gas extraction and coal-fired electrical power generating stations produce wastewaters that are treated and discharged to rivers in Western Pennsylvania with public drinking water system (PDWS) intakes. Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES) was used to quantify inorganic species in wastewater and river samples using a method based on EPA Method 200.7 rev4.4. A total of 53 emission lines from 30 elements (Al, As, B, Ba, Ca, Cd, Ce, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, K, Li, Mg, Mn, Mo, Na, Ni, P, Pb, S, Sb, Se, Si, Sn, Sr, Ti, Tl, V, and Zn) were investigated. Samples were prepared by microwave-assisted acid digestion using a mixture of 2% HNO3 and 0.5% HCl. Lower interferences and better detection characteristics resulted in selection of alternative wavelengths for Al, As, Sb, Mg, Mo, and Na. Radial view measurements offered accurate determinations of Al, Ba, K, Li, Na, and Sr in high-brine samples. Spike recovery studies and analyses of reference materials showed 80-105% recoveries for most analytes. This method was used to quantify species in samples with high to low brine concentrations with method detection limits a factor of 2 below the maximum contaminant limit concentrations of national drinking water standards. Elements B, Ca, K, Li, Mg, Na, and Sr were identified as potential tracers for the sources impacting PDWS intakes. Usability of the ICP-OES derived data for factor analytic model applications was also demonstrated.