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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The voltammetric determination of copper and lead in seawater : applications to Indian Arm and Burrard Inlet Erickson, Paul Eric


An anodic stripping voltammetric technique was developed for the simultaneous determination of Cu and Pb in seawater. Mercuric ion added to the sample is plated out with the metals of interest onto a highly polished glassy carbon electrode. The thin mercury films obtained by this procedure gave excellent resolution and sensitivity although a non-linear response resulted in the case of Cu, presumably as a result of saturation of the mercury, at concentrations in excess of 4 μg/1. The technique was applied to a short term study of the distribution of Cu and Pb in Indian Arm and Burrard Inlet. Large fluctuations in the concentrations of both metals were observed during the sampling period, July to October, 1972. Although dissolved Pb concentrations were lower than might be expected near a large urban area, there was, nevertheless, an overall enrichment of the subsurface waters of the inlets relative to Georgia Strait by as much as an order of magnitude. Dissolved Cu concentrations were not, however, significantly higher than those reported for other B.C. coastal waters. Although study of metal speciation by the method employed here was limited by the excess of mercuric ions added to the samples and interferences from surface active agents, evidence was obtained indicating that a portion of Cu in some British Columbia coastal seawater samples is complexed with dissolved organic matter. The experimental conditions indicate that these complexes are either inert to displacement by mercuric ions or have a high degree of specificity for Cu.

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