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Perchlorate Analysis

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Background

Perchlorate, ClO4-, is a common salt anion of ammonium, potassium and sodium. It can be found in rocket fuel, explosives, airbag inflators, leather finishing and fertilizers. A majority of the perchlorate produced in the U.S. is used as the primary ingredient of solid rocket fuel.

Perchlorate salts dissociate very readily and are not affected by pH or temperature. The resulting perchlorate ion is very mobile and persistent in aqueous systems and is very difficult to treat.

Releases have been identified in 18 states as well as the Colorado River, which is the main source of drinking water for millions of residents in the Southwest United States.

For many years it was believed that perchlorate was not dangerous; however, there is a growing concern that even small amounts may cause thyroid tumors, decrease thyroid function and adversely affect neurological growth and development in fetuses and infants.

Regulations

In order to gather needed exposure information and consideration for possible regulation, perchlorate was placed on the Contaminant Candidate List (CCL) in March 1998 and on the Unregulated Contaminants Monitoring Rule (UCMR) in March 1999.

As a result of being placed on the CCL and UCMR, numerous projects are being conducted to determine the extent of perchlorate occurrence in the environment. Since the physical and chemical nature of perchlorate effectively blocks reductants from attacking the chlorine, treatment of contaminated water is complicated.

Sample Analysis

Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories Environmental offers trace-level analysis of perchlorate in water, using EPA Method SW-846 6850 (LC/MS/MS), which provides excellent sensitivity and selectivity.

Another option is Ion Chromatography (IC) using EPA 314.0.

Samples exhibiting high conductivity due to large concentrations of interfering anions can be very challenging by IC. Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories Environmental performs several sample pretreatment techniques to remove matrix interferences, which allows us to maintain low detection limits and preserve expensive chromatographic supplies.

This analysis must be prearranged with the laboratory prior to sample submission.

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