On-line chloride removal from ion chromatography for trace-level analyses of phosphite and other anions by coupled IC-ICPMS

Abu S. Baidya, Eva Elisabeth Stueeken*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Ion chromatography (IC) combined with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS) is an ideal tool for measuring low concentrations of anionic species such as phosphite; however, the high concentration of chloride and other anions in natural solutions may negatively impact chromatographic separation and data quality.


We developed an on-line mechanism of removing chloride from a sample within an ion chromatograph, using an additional valve and a separation column that transfers chloride to waste while phosphite and most other anions are retained. We installed this system in a coupled IC/ICPMS system (ICS6000 and Element 2 in medium-resolution mode) and determined linearity and detection limits. In addition, we measured phosphorus species by NMR for comparison as an alternative method for phosphite determination.


Chloride was fully removed from the samples while phosphite was retained and could be analysed by IC/ICPMS. Concentrations could be measured down to 0.003 μmol/L and possibly less with good linearity over the explored range (up to 1.615 μmol/L; r2 = 0.999). In contrast, the detection limit by NMR was 6.46 μmol/L.


The on-line removal mechanism works well for simplifying sample matrices. It removes the need for costly pre-analytical sample treatment with OnGuard columns. We confirm that IC/ICPMS is the most powerful technique for quantifying phosphite in natural solutions. The new chloride-removal method may also be applicable to analyses of other anions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere9665
Number of pages9
JournalRapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2023


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