Standard Article

Ion Chromatography in Environmental Analysis

Environment: Water and Waste

  1. Peter E. Jackson

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a0835

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

How to Cite

Jackson, P. E. 2006. Ion Chromatography in Environmental Analysis. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. Dionex® Corporation, Sunnyvale, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


Ion chromatography (IC) is a subset of liquid chromatography applied to the determination of ionic solutes, such as inorganic anions, cations, transition metals, and low-molecular-weight organic acids and bases. Although these solutes can be analyzed using a number of separation and detection modes, ion-exchange is the primary separation mode and suppressed conductivity is the primary method of detection in IC. Method detection limits (MDLs) for inorganic anions and cations are typically in the low parts per billion range and recoveries obtained for ions in spiked water samples are generally in the order of 80–110%. The linear calibration range extends from low parts per billion to mid parts per million concentrations for most applications. IC is well established as regulatory method for the analysis of inorganic anions in environmental samples as there are few alternative methods which can determine multiple anions in a single analysis. However, there are relatively few regulatory methods for cation analysis which use IC. Methods for cation analysis tend to be based upon spectroscopic techniques, although IC offers the advantage of providing information on metal speciation. The main interferences in IC are generally other ions which elute within the timeframe of the ion(s) of interest, and the determination of trace ions in the presence of high levels of other ionic species remains the most difficult of analyses with this technique.