Trace element contaminants in the Kuwait water production system
Fresh water in Kuwait is produced by non- conventional methods. About 95% of this water comes from desalinated seawater using multi-stage flash distillation technique and the remainder comes from underground brackish water. The blended water containes organic, inorganic and trace metal impurities within the recommended international standard limits. The purpose of this work is to identify the source of selected trace metals present in the drinking water in Kuwait. Chromium, copper, iron, lead, manganese, nickel, vanadium and zinc have been analysed using atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS) and inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy (ICPMS). Efforts were made to improve the preconcentration of the selected metals and their separation from the high concentration of salts in seawater which affect the accuracy and cause major interference in the analysis. Solid-liquid extraction (chelex-100 resin) and liquid-liquid extraction (methyl iso-butyl ketone and freon) with and without back-extraction into nitric acid were investigated. Liquid-liquid extraction without back-extraction proved to give optimum recovery of the selected metals. Results confirmed that both AAS and ICP-MS are suitable for the analysis of trace metals in Kuwait's waters. Although AAS technique proved to be more accurate in analysing the selected metals than ICP-MS, the latter was adopted since its accuracy is acceptable (1.1-4.4%) and it is easier and faster than the former technique. The study revealed that the source of copper, iron, nickel and zinc is the construction materials of the distillation plants, while the source of lead and vanadium is the brackish water. Manganese and chromium concentrations are very low in all sources. No direct relationship between the metal concentration in the seawater and the distillate could be deduced.