The presence of concentrations of organic substances in water is a matter of increasing concern to the water industry, environmentalists and the general public alike from the point of view of possible health hazards presented to both human and animal life, represented by domesticated and wild animals and bird and fish life. This awareness hinges on three facts: the increasing interest by the scientist and the public alike in matters environmental, an increased usage of organic materials in commerce coupled with the much wider variety of organic substances used nowadays, and finally, the availability of analytical methods sensitive enough to determine very low concentrations of these substances, the presence of which we formerly were unaware.
It has been estimated that river waters can contain up to 2000 different organic substances over a wide concentration range and many of these survive processing in the water works and occur in potable water, with possible health implications. The Food and Drug Administration in America, amongst others, is systematically working its way through screening tests on these substances so far identified in water, but this is a process that will take many years to complete.
As well as organics occurring in water as a direct result of industrial activity there are those which occur more indirectly from other causes, such as haloforms produced in the chlorination stage of the water treatment process, organometallic compounds produced by conversion of inorganic salts by biological activity in rivers and nitrosamine formation by conversion of inorganic nitrates. There are also, of course, naturally occurring organic substances in water.
The purpose of this book is to draw together and systemize the body of information available throughout the world up to early 1998 on the occurrence and determination of organics of all types in non-saline and saline natural and treated water. In this way reference to a very scattered literature can be avoided.
This is not a recipe book, i.e. methods are not presented in detail, space considerations alone would not permit this; instead the chemist is presented with details of methods available for the determination of all types of organics in a variety of types of water samples. Methods are described in broad outline giving enough information for the chemist to decide whether he or she wishes to refer to the original paper. To this end, information is provided on applicability of methods, advantages and disadvantages of one method compared to another, interferences, sensitivity and detection limits. Examples of results obtained by various methods are given.
Microbiological methods are not included as this subject would justify a separate book. Some enzymic assay methods are included.
It was decided, on balance, to include organometallic compounds (Chapter 12) as these are now frequently being found in environmental water samples.
Chemists wishing to identify unknown organic compounds in a sample increasingly employ combinations of chromatographic and mass spectrometric techniques. These techniques are discussed throughout the book and in more detail in Chapter 11.
Where available, preconcentration techniques are discussed, enabling the sensitivity of methods to be improved by several orders of magnitude, a refinement often needed in environmental water analysis.
Chapter 1, which forms an introduction, discusses the principles of the various techniques now being employed in water analysis, and the types of determinations to which these techniques can be applied. This chapter also contains a useful key system so that the reader can quickly locate in the book sections in which are discussed the determination by various techniques of particular organics in particular types of water sample.
The contents are presented in as logical fashion as possible, starting in Chapter 2 with a discussion of hydrocarbons and polyaromatic hydrocarbons. Chapter 4 deals with the various types of surface active agents, whilst Chapters 3 and 5 - 8 deal, respectively, with oxygen, halogen, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulphur compounds. The determination of various types of insecticides and herbicides is discussed in Chapter 9. The book concludes with a discussion of elemental analysis and oxygen parameters (Chapters 13 and 14).
Examination for organic substances combines all the exciting features of analytical chemistry. First, the analysis must be successfully completed and in many cases, such as spillages, must be completed quickly. Often the nature of the substances to be analysed for is unknown, the substances might occur at exceedingly low concentrations and might, indeed, be a complex mixture. To be successful in such an area requires analytical skills of a high order and the availability of sophisticated instrumentation.
The work has been written with the interest of the following groups of people in mind: management and scientists in all aspects of the water industry, river management, fishery industries, sewage effluent treatment and disposal, land drainage and water supply; also management and scientists in all branches of industry which produce aqueous effluents. It will also be of interest to agricultural chemists, agriculturists concerned with the ways in which organic chemicals used in crop or soil treatment permeate through the ecosystem, the biologists and scientists involved in fish, plant, insect and plant life, and also to the medical profession, toxicologists and public health workers and public analysts. Other groups or workers to whom the work will be of interest include oceanographers, environmentalists and, not least, members of the public who are concerned with the protection of our environment.
Finally, it is hoped that the work will act as a spur to students of all subjects mentioned and assist them in the challenge that awaits them in ensuring that the pollution of the environment is controlled so as to ensure that by the turn of the century we are left with a worthwhile environment to protect.
Was this article helpful?
Thousands Have Used Chemicals To Improve Their Medical Condition. This Book Is one Of The Most Valuable Resources In The World When It Comes To Chemicals. Not All Chemicals Are Harmful For Your Body – Find Out Those That Helps To Maintain Your Health.