A procedure for the simultaneous determination of total nitrogen and total phosphorus in freshwater samples using persulphate microwave digestion

Penny Johnes, A. L. Heathwaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

113 Citations (Scopus)


In the absence of a suitable method for routine analysis of large numbers of natural river water samples for organic nitrogen and phosphorus fractions, a new simultaneous digestion technique was developed, based on a standard persulphate digestion procedure. This allows rapid analysis of river, lake and groundwater samples from a range of environments for total nitrogen and phosphorus. The method was evaluated using a range of organic nitrogen and phosphorus structures tested at low, mid and high range concentrations from 2 to 50 mg l-1 nitrogen and 0.2 to 10 mg l-1 phosphorus. Mean recoveries for nitrogen ranged from 94.5% (2 mg I-1) to 92.7% (50 mg I-1) and for phosphorus were 98.2% (0.2 mg l-1) to 100.2% (10 mg l-1). The method is precise in its ability m reproduce results from replicate digestions, and robust in its ability to handle a variety of natural water samples in the pH range 5-8.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1281-1287
Number of pages7
JournalWater Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1992

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