Sample collection into sterile vacuum tubes to preserve arsenic speciation in natural water samples
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The accurate speciation analysis of arsenic is a serious concern for water quality monitoring programs. Because the preservation of sample integrity until analysis is one of the most important aspects of speciation, this study aims to compare the performance of four different sample preservation methods under diverse conditions of sample quality. Natural samples with different characteristics were collected into the following containers to study their effectiveness: (1) standard high-density polyethylene bottle with no preservative; (2) empty, sterile Vacuette tube with no preservative; (3) sterile tripotassium ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (K3EDTA) Vacuette tube with K3EDTA additive; and (4) empty, sterile Vacuette tube with added hydrochloric acid (HCl). Known concentrations of arsenite [As(III)] were also added to each container to monitor the oxidation of As(III) to arsenate [As(V)]. The results revealed recovery ratios exceeding 95% in all containers with sterile vacuum conditions. In particular, the K3EDTA Vacuette tube yielded a recovery very close to 100% of the spiked As(III), which is known to rapidly oxidize to As(V). Overall, collecting the sample into a container under sterile vacuum conditions and using a universally accepted preserving agent such as EDTA or HCl significantly improved the preservation of the original species distribution in the water matrix studied, compared to sampling without the use of preservation methods. After validation by future research, these sterile vacuum tubes can possibly be utilized for collecting and storing samples for the routine speciation analysis of other elements such as selenium, chromium, and antimony.