Detection of Zinc Oxide and Cerium Dioxide Nanoparticles during Drinking Water Treatment by Rapid Single Particle ICP-MS Methods


Nanoparticles (NPs) entering water systems are an emerging concern as NPs are more frequently manufactured and used. Single particle inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (SP-ICP-MS) methods were validated to detect Zn- and Ce-containing NPs in surface and drinking water using a short dwell time of 0.1 ms or lower, ensuring precision in single particle detection while eliminating the need for sample preparation. Using this technique, information regarding NP size, size distribution, particle concentration, and dissolved ion concentrations was obtained simultaneously. The fates of Zn- and Ce-NPs, including those found in river water and added engineered NPs, were evaluated by simulating a typical drinking water treatment process. Lime softening, alum coagulation, powdered activated carbon sorption, and disinfection by free chlorine were simulated sequentially using river water. Lime softening removed 38–53 % of Zn-containing and ZnO NPs and >99 % of Ce-containing and CeO2 NPs. Zn-containing and ZnO NP removal increased to 61–74 % and 77–79 % after alum coagulation and disinfection, respectively. Source and drinking water samples were collected from three large drinking water treatment facilities and analyzed for Zn- and Ce-containing NPs. Each facility had these types of NPs present. In all cases, particle concentrations were reduced by a minimum of 60 % and most were reduced by >95 % from source water to finished drinking water. This study concludes that uncoated ZnO and CeO2 NPs may be effectively removed by conventional drinking water treatments including lime softening and alum coagulation.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Second Department


Keywords and Phrases

Activated Carbon; Activated Carbon Treatment; Carbon; Chemicals Removal (Water Treatment); Coagulation; Disinfection; Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry; Lime; Mass Spectrometers; Mass Spectrometry; Nanoparticles; Potable Water; Water; Water Resources; Water Treatment; Zinc; Zinc Oxide; Drinking Water Samples; Drinking Water Treatment Process; Nanoparticle (NPs); Particle Concentrations; Powdered Activated Carbon; Sample Preparation; Single Particle; Single Particle Detection; Chemical Water Treatment

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

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© 2016 Springer Verlag, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jul 2016