This work covers an investigation into the potential of developing an automated on-line column preconcentration system using the readily available micro-cartridge HyperSep SCX for fast simultaneous determination of trace Ag(I), Cd(II), Co(II), Cr(III), Cu(II), Fe(III), Mn(II), Ni(II), Pb(II) and Zn(II) ions by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry. The proposed method was based on the quantitative sorption of target elements onto the surface of the strong cation exchange resin at pH ∼2.0, and complete elution with 2.0 mol L−1HCl. All factors affecting the performance of the system such as sample acidity, loading and elution flow rate, preconcentration time as well as radio frequency (RF) incident power and nebulizer gas flow rate were examined in detail. The noticeable reduced consumption of chemicals along with automatic manipulations enabled the realization of a simplified and relatively clean procedure with low detection limits in the range of 0.05 and 0.2 μg L−1. Under the optimal conditions, the developed method provided a sampling frequency of 24 h−1 for all 10 studied elements. The accuracy of the developed method was evaluated by analyzing certified reference materials and spiked environmental natural water samples.
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