Measuring Water Quality with Spectrophotometry: The Best Approach for Identifying the Unknown

Water quality can be difficult to determine. Whether you are dealing with large bodies of water or the tiny bottles you buy at your local supermarket, quality is significant with regard to what many consider the most important resource we have here on earth…water! When we fill up a glass with our kitchen faucet, most of use judge water quality by the clarity of the liquid.  However, many unknown microscopic particles or chemical components are invisible to the human eye, presenting potential dangers and interfering with water quality. Spectrophotometry offers a solution for determining unknown contaminates, which is a necessary process for many applications, including drinking water or aiding in environmental safety and protection.

spectrophotometry
Water quality is important to our environment as well as our drinking source. The ability to measure water quality and purity provides a solution for a variety of applications and needs.
Image Source: Flickr user Dovydas Cioménas

Measuring water quality

Water quality value is important for a variety of applications including environmental protection issues, potable water, and consumption, as well industrial purposes where water quality and purity are essential. Simple and convenient testing has been developed that uses color sample comparison and the sense of sight to monitor water quality, yet these measurement tools fail to provide the quantitative information needed for effective analysis. Many of these testing kits also use chemical reactants to provide a visual guide for analysis, which contaminates the sample itself.

Analysis via pectrophotometry provides a non-destructive alternative for measuring contaminants that may be hiding in our water supplies. This form of quantifiable analysis is easy-to-use and highly accurate, and removes the risk of human error. Water quality and purity standards require objective data through spectrophotometric analysis in order to meet strict guideline such as the APHA (American Public Health Association) standards for water quality. Spectrophotometers quantify APHA color measurements using the Hazen color index, and provide precise analysis of water quality and purity.

spectrophotometry
Spectrophotometry measures APHA color and provided quantifiable data for precise water quality analysis.
Image Source: Flickr user Mohd Althani

Applications of water quality measurement

Applications of water quality analysis are numerous. Spectrophotometry can help in determining oil and grease contamination in large water sources, as well offering the ability to detect minute traces of iron in drinking water supplies. Marine chemistry analysis using spectrophotometers can quantify levels of chlorophyll and nitrates to determine the health of our oceans and waterways.

plastic bottle water quality
Water quality analysis ensures safe drinking water and can provide valuable information to researchers about the chemical properties of our water supplies.
Image Source: Flickr user frankieleon

Spectrophotometers not only measure color value, but specific wavelengths of light, which help to classify exact properties of chemical components found in various water sources. Precise absorption values measurements help to identify and quantify the levels of these compounds, offering valuable information about water quality. This data can help determine the safety of drinking water and recognize toxic levels of additives that may cause a risk to human health. Measuring nutrient components of both fresh water and sea water with spectrophotometric analysis provides researchers with valuable information that relates directly to water quality and can detect even the slightest variations or changes.

Benefits of spectrophotometry

Today’s spectrophotometers are designed to be both durable and portable, offering flexibility in application and use. At HunterLab, we offer a variety of instrumentation that is intended specifically for use in water quality analysis. Many of our products are designed to measure a variety of liquid substances and can provide valuable data for maintaining quality and safety. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is here to provide expert advice in product selection and we work together with our clients to develop and modify our color measurement tools to meet your specific needs. Contact HunterLab today to learn more about our products and how we can help you attain water quality standards.

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