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Water Sci Technol. 2012;66(12):2653-8. doi: 10.2166/wst.2012.468.

Spectrophotometric determination of trace amounts of phosphate in water and soil.

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  • 1Reprocessing Group, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam, 603102, India.


A simple spectrophotometric method has been developed for the determination of phosphate dissolved in soil and water. The method is based on the formation of phosphomolybdate with added ammonium molybdate followed by reduction with hydrazine in acidic medium. Orthophosphate and molybdate ions condense in acidic solution to give molybdophosphoric (phosphomolybdic) acid, which upon selective reduction (perhaps with hydrazinium sulphate) produces a blue colour, due to molybdenum blue of uncertain composition. The intensity of blue colour is proportional to the amount of phosphate. If the acidity at the time of reduction is 0.5 M in sulphuric acid and hydrazinium sulphate is the reductant, the resulting blue complex exhibits maximum absorption at 830 nm. The system obeys Lambert-Beer's law at 830 nm in the concentration range of 0.5-5 μg/mL of phosphate with a relative standard deviation (RSD) of 0.1% and correlation coefficient of 0.99. Molar absorptivity was determined to be 2.9 × 10⁴ L mol⁻¹ cm⁻¹ at 830 nm. The method is also applicable for the determination of phosphate in nuclear reprocessing plants, medical science, clinical science, agriculture, metallurgy and environmental science.

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