Analysis of trace metals (Cu, Cd, Pb, and Fe) in seawater using single batch nitrilotriacetate resin extraction and isotope dilution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Academic Article uri icon


  • A simple and accurate low-blank method has been developed for the analysis of total dissolved copper, cadmium, lead, and iron in a small volume (1.3-1.5 mL per element) of seawater. Pre-concentration and salt-separation of a stable isotope spiked sample are achieved by single batch extraction onto nitrilotriacetate (NTA)-type Superflow() chelating resin beads (100-2400 beads depending on the element). Metals are released into 0.1-0.5 M HNO(3), and trace metal isotope ratios are determined by ICPMS. The benefit of this method compared to our previous Mg(OH)(2) coprecipitation method is that the final matrix is very dilute so cone-clogging and matrix sensitivity suppression are minimal, while still retaining the high accuracy of the isotope dilution technique. Recovery efficiencies are sensitive to sample pH, number of resin beads added, and the length of time allowed for sample-resin binding and elution; these factors are optimized for each element to yield the highest recovery. The method has a low procedural blank and high sensitivity sufficient for the analysis of pM-nM open-ocean trace metal concentrations. Application of this method to samples from the Bermuda Atlantic Time-Series Study station provides oceanographically consistent Cu, Cd, Pb, and Fe profiles that are in good agreement with other reliable data for this site. In addition, the method can potentially be modified for the simultaneous analysis of multiple elements, which will be beneficial for the analysis of large number of samples.

published proceedings

  • Anal Chim Acta

altmetric score

  • 5.152

author list (cited authors)

  • Lee, J., Boyle, E. A., Echegoyen-Sanz, Y., Fitzsimmons, J. N., Zhang, R., & Kayser, R. A.

citation count

  • 106

complete list of authors

  • Lee, Jong-Mi||Boyle, Edward A||Echegoyen-Sanz, Yolanda||Fitzsimmons, Jessica N||Zhang, Ruifeng||Kayser, Richard A

publication date

  • February 2011