Significance of Analytes in Water

Significance of Analytes in Water

The analytical division of the OSU REEL project investigates the concentrations of contaminants, including ionic species, in the waterways of Greater Columbus, OH, such as the Scioto and Olentangy Rivers, and their tributaries .  These ion concentrations can potentially have profound effects on aquatic life and the ecosystem as a whole.

The process of eutrophication, whereby an excess presence of nutrients (most notably nitrate and phosphate) drives exponential algal growth, can wipe out fish life in a body of water by depleting the oxygen or by releasing toxins1. Freshwater systems are particularly sensitive to subtle environmental changes2. A close, careful study of ion levels in water will help detect trends and allow predictions as to whether any danger of eutrophication exists.



                 EPA Standard for Drinking Water


250 ppm


4 ppm


10 ppm


1 ppm


250 ppm

*Secondary EPA standard for drinking water3

While the above standards apply only for drinking water, a general idea may be formed as to what concentrations may be viewed as acceptable in river water.

The water samples throughout the region may be contaminated by several human amenities.  Throughout the Olentangy River there are many sewage overflow points.  Sewage water has been known to be a large water contaminate despite studies to suggest its diminished importance.  Sewers have been known to increase the concentrations of organic compounds as well as lead, chloride, and phosphorus concentrations4.  Also noteworthy is that many streams feeding the Olentangy River go through urban housing areas which make them prone to contamination from the urban runoff.  Urban runoff has the most variable effects, but often increases the concentration of all constituents; more specifically high levels of oxygen, nutrients, hydrocarbons, metals, and suspended solids are often recorded with phosphorus, ammonium, and nitrates being the common ions of interest in this study5.  Urban runoff also has the more unique property of its affect being dependent on the precipitation of the surrounding area; studies have shown that with increased precipitation, concentrations are higher which suggests that increased rain washes out more ions, rather than diluting the ions present6.  Also at one point specific to Turkey Run there is a golf course; since golf courses often heavily fertilize their lawns, studied streams around golf courses often have high concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as a higher alkalinity7.

(1) Anderson, D. M.; Glibert, P. M.; Burkholder, J. M. Harmful Algal Blooms and Eutrophication: Nutrient Sources, Composition, and Consequences. Estuaries. 2002, 25-4b, 704-726. (Accessed November 22, 2011).

(2) Williamson CE, Dodds W, Kratz TK, Palmer M. Lakes and streams as sentinels of environmental change in terrestrial and atmospheric processes. Front. Ecol. Environ. 2008;6:247–254. (Accessed November 22, 2011).

(3) EPA. Drinking Water Contaminants. (accessed November 22, 2011).

(4) Izonfuo, L. W.A., Bariweni, A. P., The Effect Of Urban Runoff Water And Human Activities On Some Physico-Chemical Parameters Of The Epie Creek In The Niger Delta. Journal of Applied Sciences and Environmental Management [Online] 2001, 5, 47-55. (accessed Nov. 22, 2011).

(5) Paul, M. J., Meyer, J. L. Streams in the Urban Landscape. Urban Ecology [Online] 2008, 3, 207-231. (accessed Nov. 22, 2011).

(6) Taebia, A., Droste, R. L., Pollution loads in urban runoff and sanitary waste water. Science of the Total Evironment [Online] 2004, 327, 175-184. (accessed Nov. 22, 2011).

(7) Dillon, P. J.; Winter, J. G., Effects of golf course construction and operation on water chemistry of headwater streams on the Precambrian Shield. Environmental and Resource Studies, Trent University. [Online] 2004, 133, 243–253. (accessed Nov 13, 2011).


Content on this web-page authored by David Merz, Shukri Zanika & Andrei Jipa


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