A Complete Guide To Water Analysis Methods In Industries

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Water analysis refers to the process of testing and evaluating the quality of water. It involves examining various physical, chemical, and biological properties to determine the quality of water. These results help to identify any potential health risks or environmental concerns associated with the water source being analyzed. 

Water analysis is a vital process used to assess the quality and composition of water. It is a critical step to ensure that water is safe and clean for drinking, industrial use, agriculture, and aquatic ecosystems, just to name a few. The water analysis process involves measuring various parameters (like pH, conductivity, etc) and contaminants present in the water to ensure its safety for consumption and suitability for specific applications. 

What Is The Need For Water Analysis Methods?

One of the main reasons why water analysis is important is to ensure that the water we consume on a daily basis, is safe for drinking. Contaminated water can pose serious health risks, as the water may contain harmful bacteria, viruses, chemicals, or heavy metals. Therefore, if we conduct regular water analysis, we can identify any potential threats and take appropriate measures to treat or filter the water and improve the quality, before it reaches our taps. This is particularly vital for more vulnerable people such as children, pregnant women, and people who have compromised immune systems. These people are typically more susceptible to waterborne diseases.

Water analysis is also essential for environmental monitoring and protection. By analyzing the water in rivers, lakes, and oceans, scientists and environmentalists can assess the health of aquatic ecosystems and identify any pollutants or contaminants that may be affecting aquatic life. This information helps in planning effective conservation and management strategies to preserve these fragile ecosystems.

Water analysis also provides valuable data for research purposes, such as studying various aspects of water quality and its impact on different ecosystems and species. This data helps in understanding the long-term effects/trends, identifying emerging contaminants, and developing new technologies or treatment methods to address water-related challenges.

The Importance Of Water Analysis Methods In Industries

Water analysis methods are crucial for a wide range of industries that rely on water for their operations, like the food and beverage industry. In this industry, water is used extensively in daily operations, such as cleaning, cooking, and ingredient preparation. Therefore, it is essential to analyze the quality of water at different points along the process to ensure that it meets the required standards for consumption and production. By completing a water analysis, you can detect any contaminants or impurities that may affect the taste, safety, and overall quality of the final product(s).

Another industry that heavily relies on water analysis methods is the pharmaceutical industry. Water is a critical component in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products, including drugs and vaccines in equipment such as bioreactors. The purity and quality of water used in these processes are of utmost importance to ensure the safety of the end products. 

The agriculture industry is also heavily dependent on water analysis methods. Irrigation is a vital stage in agriculture, and therefore, water quality plays a significant role in crop growth and yield. Analyzing the water used for irrigation helps pinpoint any harmful substances, such as pesticides or heavy metals, that may be present in the water. This allows farmers to take appropriate measures to mitigate any negative impacts on their crops, ensure the safety of their produce, and prevent contaminating surrounding areas from surface runoff. 

Additionally, power generation and oil refineries require water analysis methods to monitor the quality of water used for cooling systems and steam generation. Contaminants in water can easily lead to corrosion, scaling, and fouling of equipment, which can result in reduced efficiency and increased maintenance costs. Therefore, regular water analysis is essential to maintain smooth operations and follow safety precautions. 

Types Of Water Analysis Methods

Water quality analysis is a practice that involves examining the properties and parameters of water to ensure its safety and cleanliness. 

Chemical Water Analysis Methods

Chemical analysis is a fundamental part of water quality analysis. It requires testing for different chemical parameters to identify contaminants and assess their levels in water. Some of the commonly tested chemical parameters include ammonia, chloride ion, nitrite, nitrate, phosphate, and water hardness.

Chloride Ion: The concentration of chloride ions in water can indicate contamination levels and the potential presence of saline water. High chloride ion levels can lead to a salty taste in water and may cause corrosion in water pipelines. These not only negatively affect the quality of water, but they can also incur higher maintenance costs.

Ammonia: Ammonia is often a byproduct of organic matter decomposition and can often be found in water sources. Ammonia concentrations increase with the use of chloramine in water disinfection processes. High levels of ammonia in drinking water can have adverse health effects, and its presence may lead to distinctive tastes and odors.

Nitrite & Nitrate: Nitrite and nitrate are forms of nitrogen that can be found in water due to organic matter decomposition and atmospheric nitrogen fixation. Nitrite can be toxic, especially in high concentrations, and can cause health issues such as “blue baby syndrome” in infants. Nitrate, on the other hand, enhances the growth of aquatic plants and can contribute to water eutrophication in natural water systems, where excessive plant growth in ponds and lakes takes place. 

Phosphate: Phosphate is present in water in various forms, including dihydrogen phosphate (H2PO4-), polyphosphate (polyP), and organic phosphate. Phosphate fundamentally comes from agricultural waste, sewage, and industrial effluents. While phosphate itself is not toxic, high concentrations can lead to water eutrophication.

Hardness: Water hardness refers to the presence of calcium and magnesium salts in water. Temporary hardness is caused by carbonate and bicarbonate ions, while permanent hardness is due to chloride and sulfate ions. Hard water can have certain benefits for drinking purposes, but excessive levels of certain ions can be a nuisance because of scale buildup. 

Physical Water Analysis Methods

Physical analysis of water involves assessing its various physical properties, such as temperature, color, turbidity, and conductivity. These parameters provide valuable information about the clarity and suitability of water for various purposes.

Temperature: Water temperature plays a significant role in various physical and biological processes as it affects the dissolved oxygen content, the solubility of gases, and the growth of aquatic organisms. Temperature measurements are simple, yet essential for understanding the overall health and functioning of aquatic ecosystems.

Color: The color of the water can indicate the presence of suspended or dissolved substances. Apparent color refers to the color caused by suspended matter, while true color is caused by dissolved solids. Also, excessive color in water can be aesthetically unpleasant and may indicate the presence of organic compounds that can interfere with disinfection processes.

Turbidity: Turbidity is important as it measures the extent to which light is absorbed or scattered by suspended particles in water. It indicates the presence of particulate matter, such as sediment (like soil), algae, or organic particles, and can easily be measured with a turbidity meter. The problem with high turbidity levels is that high turbidity can affect the aesthetics of water and cause issues with disinfection processes.

Conductivity: Conductivity measures the ability of water to conduct an electrical current, which is influenced by the presence of dissolved salts, minerals, and other ions. The greater the number of ions, the higher the conductivity level. Conductivity provides insights into the overall mineral content and salinity of water and its suitability for various applications and industries.

Biological Water Analysis Methods

Biological analysis focuses on assessing the presence of microorganisms and other biological indicators in water. These indicators can provide an understanding of the overall health and safety of the water. A good example is bacteria testing.

Bacteria testing is essential in determining the safety and potability (suitability for drinking) of water. One of the most common bacteria tested for is E. coli, which is an indicator of fecal contamination. High levels of E. coli in water can indicate the presence of harmful pathogens that can pose serious health issues when consumed. Bacteria testing helps in identifying potential microbial contamination like E.coli and ensures the safety of water for drinking and other uses.

The Role Of Water Testing Laboratories

Water testing laboratories have a crucial role in water quality analysis. These specialized facilities are equipped with advanced instruments and trained personnel to perform a wide range of tests and analyses. Laboratories provide environments that ensure accurate and reliable results, which are essential for making informed decisions regarding water management and treatment.

Water testing laboratories also offer a comprehensive suite of tests, and follow standardized protocols and quality control measures to ensure the accuracy and precision of their results. Water analysis labs therefore can provide expert guidance and interpretation of the data obtained to help industries understand the implications of poor water quality and take appropriate actions.

Water Analysis: Understanding Analytical Methods

Analytical methods are procedures designed to measure the concentration of specific contaminants in water samples. These methods provide a structure for collecting, preserving, and storing samples, in addition to separating, identifying, and quantifying contaminants. Analytical methods also establish quality control criteria and outline the reporting standards.

Analytical methods serve many purposes, including demonstrating regulation compliance, meeting monitoring objectives, and providing data for water samples that require routine analysis. These methods typically have upper and lower limits within which the concentration of drinking water contaminants should be. They also incorporate quality control measures to ensure accurate and reliable results.

Development & Evaluation Of Water Analysis Methods

Abbreviations:

  • ASTM: American Society for Testing & Materials
  • DIN: German Institute of Norms
  • EN: European Unions
  • EPA: Environmental Protection Agency (US)
  • ISO: International Organization for Standardization
  • SCA: Standing Committee of  Analysts (Blue Books)
  • SLMB: Swiss Book for the Analysis of Food
  • USP: United State Pharmacopoeia 

Analytical methods used in water analysis are developed by various organizations, including governmental bodies like the EPA, consensus method organizations such as Standard Methods and ASTM International, universities, water labs, and commercial distributors. 

The EPA evaluates methods developed by others through its Alternate Test Procedure Program. This program assesses the accuracy, precision, and reliability of analytical methods from different sources.

EPA approval of methods occurs when regulating new contaminants or through other rulemaking actions. The accelerated approval process is employed to streamline the approval of drinking water analytical methods. Laboratories supporting public water systems are required to use EPA-approved methods for analyzing samples to demonstrate compliance with drinking water regulations.

Major Parameters & Corresponding Water Analysis Methods

Water analysis encompasses the measurement of various parameters and contaminants. Below are some of the most common parameters that are analyzed and the corresponding analytical methods.

Electrical Conductivity

Electrical conductivity is a key parameter used to assess the salinity and total dissolved solids in water. It provides insights into the water’s ability to conduct an electric current. 

Several standard methods are employed to determine electrical conductivity in water samples, including ASTM D 1125, EPA 120.1, ISO 7888, DIN EN 27888, and USP 645. 

pH Value

The pH value of water indicates its acidity or alkalinity and is an essential parameter to assess water quality

ASTM D 5464, EPA 150.2, DIN EN ISO 10523, SCA 14, and SLMB 602.1 are some of the standard methods used to measure the pH value of water. 

Fluoride

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that, when present at excessive levels, can have detrimental effects on human health. The analysis of fluoride in water samples is crucial to ensure that its concentration falls within acceptable limits. 

ASTM D 1179, ASTM D 3868, DIN 38405-4, EPA 340.2, ISO 10359-1, SCA 62, and SLMB 626.1 are some of the standard methods employed for fluoride analysis.

Ammonium & Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen

Ammonium and Total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN) are parameters used to assess the presence of nitrogen compounds in water samples. They provide insights into the levels of organic and inorganic nitrogen in water, which can indicate pollution and potential health risks. 

ASTM D 1426, ASTM D 3590, DIN 38406-5, EPA 350.2, EPA 350.3, EPA 351.3, EPA 351.4, ISO 5663, ISO 5664, ISO 6778, SCA 126, and SLMB 631.1 are some of the standard methods employed for the analysis of ammonium and TKN. 

Ion Chromatography

Ion chromatography is a widely used technique for the analysis of anions and cations in water samples. It involves the separation and quantification of various ions, providing insights into the chemical composition of the water. 

ASTM D 4327, ASTM D 5085, ASTM D 5257, ASTM D 5542, ASTM D 5996, ASTM D 6581, ASTM D 6919, EPA 218.6, EPA 300.0, EPA 300.1, EPA 314.0, EPA 317.0, DIN EN ISO 10304-1, DIN EN ISO 10304-3, DIN EN ISO 10304-4, DIN EN ISO 14911, DIN EN ISO 15061, SCA 631.1, and SLMB 658.1 are some of the standard methods employed for ion chromatography. 

Instrumental Methods Used In Labs

Apart from the field-testing methods, instrumental methods are used in laboratory settings to analyze water samples. These methods employ sophisticated electronic instrumentation to measure trace levels of contaminants and provide rapid and accurate results.

  • Ion chromatography: Measures trace levels of anions
  • Atomic absorption spectroscopy, inductively coupled ion spectroscopy, and x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy: Detects trace levels of different elements
  • Gas chromatography: Used to quantify volatile compounds 
  • High-pressure liquid chromatography: Used to separate and detect trace organic compounds in antimicrobial systems
  • Total organic carbon: Used to determine the number of organics in water where leaks or organic fouling of resins has occurred
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy: Used to evaluate the structure of organic polymers and other water treatment chemicals
  •  Fourier-transform infrared analysis: Used to identify and quantify the composition of boiler and cooling system deposits

How To Prepare & Collect Samples For Water Analysis

To ensure accurate and meaningful results, proper sample collection and preparation are essential in water analysis.

Firstly, it’s important to understand the different methods of water analysis. Various tests and parameters can be measured, such as pH level, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and the presence of contaminants like bacteria or heavy metals. Depending on the specific analysis you want to perform, you should select the appropriate method and collect the sample accordingly.

To start with, make sure you have the necessary equipment before collecting water samples. You will need clean and sterile bottles or containers to avoid contamination. It’s recommended to use glass or high-quality plastic containers that are specifically designed for water sampling. You should also have gloves, a waterproof marker, and labels to properly identify and record the samples.

Next, it’s important to choose the correct sampling location. The location should be representative of the water source you are analyzing. For example, if you are testing the quality of tap water in your home, you should collect the sample directly from the tap. If you are analyzing water from a river or lake, choose a spot that is away from any potential sources of contamination, such as industrial areas or sewage outlets.

When collecting the water sample, always take precautions to minimize any potential contamination. Start by rinsing the sampling container thoroughly with the same water source you are collecting from. This helps remove any impurities or residues that may affect the analysis results. Then, carefully fill the container without allowing it to touch any surfaces or come into contact with your hands.

It’s important to collect enough water for the analysis. The amount required may vary depending on the specific test or analysis method. Generally, it’s recommended to collect at least 500 milliliters (ml) of water for most standard tests. However, for more comprehensive analyses or if you need multiple tests done, you may need larger samples.

After collecting the sample, ensure that it is properly labeled and recorded. Labeling should include important information such as the location, date, and time of collection. This information is crucial for accurate data interpretation and comparison with future analyses.

Finally, take proper care of the collected samples until they reach the laboratory for analysis. Keep them in a cool and dark place to minimize any potential changes in their properties. If possible, transport them in a cooler with ice packs to maintain their temperature during transit.

Samples should be cooled to room temperature before testing, typically ranging from 21-26°C (70-80°F) – a temperature of 25°C is recommended for the majority of water analysis methods. Filtration through 0.2-2.5 µm filters may be necessary to remove particulate matter and ensure the purity of the sample.

Water Collection Methods

One common method for collecting water samples is the grab sampling technique. This involves using a clean container, such as a glass bottle or a plastic bag, to directly collect a sample of water from a specific source. 

It is important to choose a container that is free from any contaminants that could alter the composition of the water being collected. To ensure accuracy, it is recommended to collect multiple grab samples from different locations within the water source. This helps to account for any variations in water quality that may exist across the area being sampled.

Another method for collecting water samples is the composite sampling technique. This involves collecting multiple grab samples over a specific period, usually 24 hours, and combining them into one representative sample. 

The purpose of composite sampling is to obtain an average composition of the water over a given period. This method is often used when monitoring water quality over an extended period or when testing for contaminants that may fluctuate throughout the day.

Summary

Water analysis methods play a vital role in assessing the quality and safety of water for various applications. By employing standardized water analytical methods, industries can ensure accurate and reliable results, promoting the overall health and well-being of communities and ecosystems.

If you have any questions regarding water quality analysis, or what water quality testing kits we offer, do not hesitate to contact the world-class team at Atlas Scientific

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