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Environmental Analysis: Total Suspended Solids Research Paper

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Updated: May 11th, 2021

Determination and Definitions of solids found in water and the importance in conforming the quality of water for different uses

Total dissolved solids (TDS) can be defined as all minerals and positively or negatively charged ions dissolved in water that only appear as solid material when the sample is dried. TDS include inorganic salts and organic matter that dissolve in water. Some of the organic salts dissolved in water include calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium among others (Howard, 2012).

Total Suspended Solids (TSS) refers to those substances that do not dissolve in water but rather stay intact when added to water. TTS include colloidal suspended solids and settleable substances. While colloidal suspended solids can be defined as those solids that do not dissolve and do not settle easily, settleable solids refer to, the solids that do not dissolve but they easily settle at the bottom of the container holding the water (Al-Yaseri, Morgan, & Retzlaff, 2013).

Determination of solid in water

Filtration (using a permeable clothing material) and drying can be used to determine the presences of suspended solids and other sediments. While the filtrate goes through the porous material, the TTS are blocked to remain at the top (Al-Yaseri, Morgan, & Retzlaff, 2013).

In a lab set up, TDS can be determined by filtration of samples using standard glass fibre filters. The filtrate is then dried using ceramic dish under 103 C. Once the sample is dried, the temperature is adjusted upwards to 180 C to get rid of water molecules trapped in the mineral matrix (Howard, 2012).

Determination of solids in water is important in confirming the quality of water appropriate for specific use. Determination of TDS will help the user know the content of water that appears clear while the determination of TTS will help the user know the content of turbid water.

The relationship between water hardness and water alkalinity and the uses of hardness data in environmental application

Although water alkalinity and water hardness are two different phenomena, they are interrelated. Water alkalinity is a measure of the acid-neutral capacity of water whereas water hardness is associated with the ability of water to form a lather in soap. Chemically, water alkalinity is usually because of the presence of the presence of carbonate (CO3=), bicarbonate (HCO3), and hydroxyl (OH) anions (Boyd, Tucker, & Somridhivej, 2016). On the other hand, water hardness is the quantity polyvalent cations concentration in water, especially are calcium (Ca++) and magnesium (Mg++). Cations like (Fe2+) and (Mn2+) similarly contribute water hardness, however, are usually exist in considerable lesser concentrations relative to (Ca++)and (Mg++) (Boyd, Tucker, & Somridhivej, 2016).

The relationship between water alkalinity and water hardness comes in through the shared ions that cause the two phenomena. Precisely, the (Ca++ and Mg++) ions associated with water alkalinity are principally responsible for water hardness (Boyd, Tucker, & Somridhivej, 2016). As such, the carbonate element of water hardness is chemically correspondent to bicarbonates of water alkalinity. Otherwise, noncarbonated water hardness occurs when water hardness surpasses water alkalinity (Boyd, Tucker, & Somridhivej, 2016).

Uses of hardness data in environmental application

Water hardness data is vital any attempt to understand its environmental impacts. Data is used to show the effect of water hardness on aquatic life, human health and the environment in general. For instance, water hardness is linked to a number of human illnesses (Burton, 2008). Having the necessary data, therefore, will help in the treatment of illness related to water hardness (Sengupta, 2013).

Second, having the necessary data on water hardness will assist in the treatment processes. Understanding the extent, cause and the environmental effect of water hardness will be a vital tool in determining the need, the method, and the intensity of treatment.

In the BOD determination why dilution water, bacterial seed, and initial oxygen saturation are all needed

Assessment of BOD has been used as the basis for determining the extent of water pollution. In fact, BOD is regarded as the most vital measurement method for sewerage treatment plant.

In the BOD determination, the dilution water is introduced because it has identified the amount of oxygen. It also contains a pH buffer and inorganic nutrients. During the experiment, bacteria oxidize the organic contents by utilizing the dissolved oxygen found in the water (Hach, Klein, & Gibbs, 1997). By the end of the investigation, usually five days, the left dissolved oxygen is gauged. The volume of consumed oxygen and an increment in the sample are used to determine the BOD.

This method allows for a direct measurement of the volume of used oxygen. As more oxygen is consumed, more from the air will dissolve into the water. Thus, the volume of consumed oxygen can easily be measured using the manometer rather than a chemical analysis (Hach et al., 1997).

It is noted that the seeded dilution water may not be necessary when conducting an assessment for the BOD of sewage, sewage plant effluent or river water. However, the bacterial seed is necessary when some samples lack sufficient bacterial content. Bacteria are required to oxidize any living matter present in the sample. In most instances, waste materials from industries and commercial sources lack adequate bacteria.

In addition, most sewerage treatment plants also have chlorinated waste and, thus, they are generally sterile and not possible to conduct a direct assessment for BOD. To conduct a BOD test on such samples, it important to introduce bacterial seed in the dilution water. This process can be achieved by introducing a small volume of water recognized for a good bacterial content to the dilution water when the sample is being prepared. Polyseed is a simple way to find the bacterial seed (Hach et al., 1997).

When the oxygen demand is great, microorganisms consume considerably large volumes of oxygen. Hence, organic matter can use the dissolved oxygen much faster than the rate at which atmospheric oxygen can dissolve into the water or a community of autotrophic can generate (Hach et al., 1997). The use and depletion of dissolved oxygen are apparent during the beginning of microbial population increase as they react to significantly large volume of organic material.

Dissolved oxygen reduction is likely to be evident during the preliminary aquatic microbial population outburst as a rejoinder to a huge quantity of organic mater. The microbial population depletes oxygen (Sawyer, McCarty, & Parkin, 2003). Thus, limited oxygen leads to a low growth rate of aerobic aquatic microbial organisms. This situation results in oxygen deficit and food consumption. Hence, initial oxygen saturation is necessary.

A sludge sample in the lab: how to prepare the sample for metal determination (appropriate standard method)

According to EPA, metals contained in sludge should be analyzed using either Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (AAS) or Inductively Coupled Argon Plasma (ICAP) (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 1989). The preferred analytical technique is AAS, which an analytical technique that involves passing electromagnetic radiation across an atomic medium with selective absorbing qualities.

  • The sludge sample should be thoroughly mixed to attain uniformity. Every process that involves digestion, the sample weight should be checked and then about 1.00 g to 2.00 g should be transferred to a conical beaker.
  • Ten ml of HNO3 is added. The slurry is mixed and covered with a clear glass. The sample is then heated to 950 C. It is then refluxed for about 10-15 minutes without boiling. The sample is then allowed to cool and 5 ml of concentrated HNO3 is added. Further reflux is allowed for 30 minutes. This last procedure must be repeated to ensure complete oxidation. A corrugated glass is used to let the mixture to vaporize to 5 ml while preventing boiling as a layer of the content is maintained at the bottom of the vessel.
  • After the second procedure is completed and the solution has cooled, additional 2 ml of Type II water is 3 ml of 30% H202 are added. A watch glass is used to cover the beaker, and the beaker is put back to hot the plate to warm and initiate peroxide reaction (Mayouf, Najim, & Al-Bayati, 2014). The sample must be protected from losses because of extremely strong effervescence. The content should be heated until the effervescence disappears and then cooled.
  • Add extra 30% H202 in 1 ml aliquots when heating until the effervescence is low or until the appearace of the content remains unchanged.

It is recommended not to add over a total of 10 ml of 30% H202.

An air PM10 sample has been collected: how to prepare this sample for metal determinations

In short, metal determinations are experimented with 4% of nitric acid by sonication for three hours. The extracted sample is then analyzed using ICP-MS, which is successfully completed by the manufacturer software (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2005). All conditions must be followed as outlined in calibration and quality control processes.

Filter extraction

Sonication for PM10 (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2005)

  • Chop a single strip measuring 8 inches from exposed part of the filter
  • Put the filter strip down the extraction tube
  • Add 20 ml of 4% nitric acid into the extraction tube containing the filter
  • Mercury can be recovered using the ICP-MS analysis by spiking 1 ppm gold into the extraction tube
  • Cap the tube
  • Use heated sonication bath at 690 C to sonicate the content
  • Observe the filter for any signs of floats and use the glass rod to move it to the bottom
  • Once sonication is completed, the sample cools to room temperature
  • Use a filter funnel or a FilterMate device to filter and dilute the content with 50 ml of clean DI water
  • The sample extract is transferred to a polypropylene bottle for further analysis

Hot Acid Digestion for PM10 (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2005)

  • Cut about 8 inches of the exposed part of the filter
  • Dip the filter in 250 ml quart beaker
  • Add 30 ml of 10% nitric acid
  • Add 1 ppm of gold into the tube to isolate mercury ICP-MS analysis
  • Cap the tube
  • Reflux slowly for about 30 minutes at 950 C
  • Pour 10 ml of clean DI water and ensure it cools for about 30 minutes
  • Filter the content with a suitable filter of syringe filter
  • Add about 20 ml of clean DI water
  • Move the content to polypropylene bottle for further analysis

After a marine oil spill incident, a water sample has been collected: the important parameters and the process of sample preparation to detect the oil pollution

  • The sample should be cleaned to eliminate extraneous materials and to increase the concentration of hydrocarbon compounds
  • Remove debris from the sediment sample using 30 ml larger jars
  • Conduct emulsion to break the water and extract oil samples

It is noted that the analytical technique preferred influences sampling preparation and conditions. The ultraviolet fluorescence (UVF) spectroscopy consists of both quantitative and qualitative analytical techniques used to detect oil spill in the water (Baszanowska & Otremba, 2014). The sample under testing is exposed to certain frequencies of UV radiation that make aromatic elements to fluoresce (that is to release little energy light) and then detection occurs through the spectrometer.

The specific composition with oil of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) ensures that UVF is the most appropriate technique for detecting various oil types. It is also suitable for total hydrocarbon content (THC) detection in the sample. Further, this technique is also applied to detect the extremely low concentration of oil in water (about 0.1 μg/l in the laboratory).

UVF is relatively fast and an important technique. However, it is not commonly applied because the technique leads to the analysis of specific oil compounds (Baszanowska & Otremba, 2014). In addition, it is not suitable for fingerprint analysis due to non-hydrocarbon elements found in the sample, which are known to release similar activities with wavelengths and, thus, may disturb PAH signals.


Al-Yaseri, I., Morgan, S., & Retzlaff, W. (2013). Using Turbidity to Determine Total Suspended Solids in Storm-Water Runoff from Green Roofs. Journal of Environmental Engineering, 139(6), 822-828. Web.

Baszanowska, E., & Otremba, Z. (2014). Spectroscopic Methods in Application to Oil Pollution Detection in the Sea. Journal of KONES Powertrain and Transport, 19(1), 15-20.

Boyd, C. E., Tucker, C. S., & Somridhivej, B. (2016). Alkalinity and Hardness: Critical but Elusive Concepts in Aquaculture. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society, 47(1), 6-41. Web.

Burton, A. (2008). Cardiovascular Health: Hard Data for Hard Water. Environmental Health Perspectives, 116(3), A114. Web.

Hach, C. C., Klein, R. L., & Gibbs, C. R. (1997). Introduction to Biochemical oxygen demand. The USA: Hach Company.

Howard, C. (2012). Determination of Total Dissolved Solids in Water Analysis. Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, 5(1), 4-6.

Mayouf, J. A., Najim, Q. A., & Al-Bayati, H. S. (2014). Atomic absorption spectrometric determination of copper and chromium in sewage sludge. Open Science Journal of Analytical Chemistry, 1(3), 17-20.

Sawyer, C. N., McCarty, P. L., & Parkin, G. F. (2003). Chemistry for Environmental Engineering and Science (5th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Sengupta, P. (2013). Potential Health Impacts of Hard Water. International Journal of Preventive Medicine, 4(8), 866–875.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2005). Standard Operating Procedure for the Determination of Metals In Ambient Particulate Matter Analyzed By Inductively Coupled Plasma/Mass Spectrometry (ICP/MS). Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

United States Environmental Protection Agency. (1989). PTOW Sludge Sampling and Analysis Guidance Document. Washington, D.C: EPA.

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