Analyzing Phosphate by Ion Chromatography

Testing for phosphate nutrient pollution

Phosphates are nutrient compounds of phosphorus and oxygen that are essential to human, plant, and animal life. In humans, phosphate is necessary for the formation of bones and teeth, and it is a building block for energy, cell membranes, and DNA. Phosphates are used in foods to enhance nutritional value and cooking performance. The use of phosphate fertilizers over the last several decades has caused significant water quality and health issues on a global scale.

Phosphate analysis

Ion chromatography with suppressed conductivity detection is a widely-used technique to determine inorganic anions such as phosphate. A Thermo Scientific™ Reagent-Free™ ion chromatography (RFIC™) system improves the ease-of-use of IC by requiring only deionized water as a source to electrolytically generate the hydroxide mobile phase in line, allowing for greater sensitivity, smaller sample injections, and lower protein consumption.

Regulatory information

There is no EPA maximum contaminant level for phosphate in drinking water. In surface waters, phosphate is typically a limiting plant nutrient. The recommend maximum concentration of total phosphate in rivers and streams is 0.1mg/L.

Example application notes