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Water Sci Technol. 2013;67(5):1075-82. doi: 10.2166/wst.2013.659.

Quality control considerations for size exclusion chromatography with online ICP-MS: a powerful tool for evaluating the size dependence of metal-organic matter complexation.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Davis, CA, USA.


Size exclusion chromatography (SEC), which separates molecules based on molecular volume, can be coupled with online inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) to explore size-dependent metal-natural organic matter (NOM) complexation. To make effective use of this analytical dual detector system, the operator should be mindful of quality control measures. Al, Cr, Fe, Se, and Sn all exhibited columnless attenuation, which indicated unintended interactions with system components. Based on signal-to-noise ratio and peak reproducibility between duplicate analyses of environmental samples, consistent peak time and height were observed for Mg, Cl, Mn, Cu, Br, and Pb. Al, V, Fe, Co, Ni, Zn, Se, Cd, Sn, and Sb were less consistent overall, but produced consistent measurements in select samples. Ultrafiltering and centrifuging produced similar peak distributions, but glass fiber filtration produced more high molecular weight (MW) peaks. Storage in glass also produced more high MW peaks than did plastic bottles.

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