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

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 us 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.

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The Importance of Measuring Water Quality

Water quality measurements define water's microbiological, chemical, physical, and biological characteristics. Measuring water quality is critical because it ensures the water supply is safe for human consumption and meets testing regulations and standards. Water measurements also provide objective evidence for decision-making about water quality management.

Measurements are necessary for all water supplies because contamination can occur as a result of:

  • Manufacturing processes.
  • Naturally occurring chemicals and minerals like arsenic and uranium.
  • Malfunctioning on-site wastewater treatment systems like septic systems.
  • Sewage releases.
  • Local land use practices like fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Improperly treated water.
  • Poorly maintained water distribution systems like pipes.

Contaminants from these sources can cause health problems such as neurological disorders, reproductive issues, and gastrointestinal illnesses. Infants, young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems are the most vulnerable to illnesses arising from consuming contaminated water.

Water quality value is important for a variety of applications, including environmental protection issues, potable water, and consumption, as well as industrial purposes where water quality and purity are essential.


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 as 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.


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

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Spectrophotometers measure not only color value but also specific wavelengths of light, which help to classify the 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 freshwater and seawater with spectrophotometric analysis provides researchers with valuable information that relates directly to water quality and can detect even the slightest variations or changes.

Spectrophotometry: A Water Quality Measurement Solution

Basic water quality analysis methods involve adding a chemical reactant to the water sample to aid visual analysis. Then, the water sample is compared to a color sample using human vision. This method is subject to inaccuracies and cannot obtain quantitative information for further analysis. Furthermore, the chemical reactants contaminate the water sample, making it nonviable for further testing and analysis.

Analysis via spectrophotometry provides a nondestructive alternative for measuring contaminants that may be hiding in our water supplies. Spectrophotometers can identify the contaminants in a water sample and measure the water's APHA color. This solution determines color value by measuring specific wavelengths of light. As a result, chemical components and properties in water can be accurately classified.

Spectrophotometers offer several advantages over other water quality instruments and tools. This form of quantifiable analysis:

  • Is easy to use.
  • Is highly accurate.
  • Removes the risk of human error.
  • Is durable for all conditions.
  • Is portable for use anywhere.
  • Can measure virtually any water sample.
  • Identifies water quality changes quickly.
  • Is free of reagents.
  • Does not require the sample to be pretreated.
  • Can measure continuously.

Spectrophotometers also provide valuable information about water quality that can be used to evaluate the safety of drinking water, identify contaminant levels, and maintain purity.

Water quality and purity standards require objective data through spectrophotometric analysis in order to meet strict guidelines such as the American Public Health Association (APHA) standards for water quality. Spectrophotometers quantify APHA color measurements using the Hazen color index and provide precise analysis of water quality and purity.

Water Quality Measurement Solutions From HunterLab

At HunterLab, we offer a variety of instrumentation that is intended specifically for use in water quality analysis. We have over 70 years of experience creating spectrophotometers for water quality, and our solutions are the leading standard in the industry. 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 to learn more about our products and how we can help you attain water quality standards.