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Metal Concentration Measurements of Industrial Wastewater

Quickly determining the concentration of metals in industrial wastewater

Metals from industrial work can pollute rivers and lakes. The metals are potentially poisonous to many forms of aquatic life and may slow their development, make them infertile, or even result in death. Due to the discharge of large amounts of metal-contaminated wastewater, companies that utilize heavy metals, such as cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), nickel (Ni), arsenic (As), mercury (Hg), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn), are the most hazardous among the chemical intensive industries.

Metal Concentration Measurements of Industrial Wastewater Influent

Measuring the concentration of heavy metals in industrial wastewater

Metal contamination and its treatment is a critical part of the wastewater cycle. One of the greatest challenges to running a treatment plant is the control of wastewater, whether caused by mixed streams, large variations in volume, or simply the type of industrial operation.

If you are treating wastewater from printed circuit board manufacturing, metal finishing and plating, mineral processing, or semiconductor manufacturing, the concentration of metals may vary considerably, and the specific metals will vary depending on the manufacturing process. Independent of the treatment process being employed, such as ion exchange, filtration, or precipitation, knowing the concentration of the wastewater is important.

Metal Concentration Measurements of Industrial Wastewater Influent

Using Olympus’ X-ray fluorescence (XRF) technology, the wastewater treatment can be optimized by taking frequent samples to measure the concentration of metals. Handheld XRF is fast and field portable, so users can get results on the spot in a matter of seconds.

Limits of detection

The limits of detection (LODs) table below includes a list of elements of interest for industrial wastewater applications. The LODs were obtained using a DELTA® Premium handheld XRF analyzer using 3-beam soil mode at 120 seconds per beam in a clean, homogenous SiO2 matrix without interfering elements.

LODs may vary depending on sample characteristics.

Metal Concentration Measurements of Industrial Wastewater Influent
Element LOD (ppm)
Cd 10
Cr 10
Cu 10
Ni 20
As 5
Hg 5
Pb 5
Zn 5


Using handheld XRF as part of a wastewater sampling regime helps make it easier to quickly determine the concentration of metals, helping optimize the wastewater treatment process.

Products used for this application

FOX-IQ Process & On-Line XRF System

The FOX-IQ Process & On-Line XRF System is for automated, continuous, on-line XRF measurements of Ca to U. It’s designed for 24/7 operation industrial environments to optimize processes for increased productivity & improved quality. Used for metals, alloys, liquids & other fluids. Easy install, low cost of ownership.
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