September 2009, Vol. 21, No.9

Water Volumes

Water Volumes - Handbook of Water Analysis, Second Edition

Leo M.L. Nollet (2007). CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group LLC, 6000 Broken Parkway, N.W., Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487-2742, 769 pp., $268.95, hardcover, ISBN-10: 0-8493-7033-7.

This book is intended as a primary textbook for undergraduate students and for graduate students involved in water analysis. However, it is much more than that. Water analysis is a broad field involving separation and detection methods, as well as clever use of physicochemical properties for a wide (and ever growing) range of compounds. Being an expert in all these subdisciplines is only possible for the happy few. Therefore, anyone involved in analysis of water samples — from the lab technician developing a new method for analysis of a specific compound to the manager who has to decide in which techniques resources should be invested — may benefit from this extensive overview.

Attention is paid to well-established analyses, such as determining biochemical oxygen demand and chemical oxygen demand, and state-of-the-art techniques for determining metals in water. But there is also much content devoted to new developments in detecting endocrine-disrupting chemicals, pharmaceuticals and personal-care products, phenolic compounds, and plastics residues. Obviously, methods to detect these emerging water pollutants are new, and everyone in the water quality field should be aware of the developments described in this book. For people with a long history in water analysis, this is a good way to keep on track.

The book contains 26 chapters, each written by selected experts. Sampling methods in surface waters, the starting point for any analytical procedure, is also the starting point for the book. Information in this chapter may help readers avoid elementary mistakes in containers, preservation of samples, and the time window for analysis. The second chapter covers treatment of data, which is also essential. Usually, a large data set is collected, and this requires a careful interpretation; chemometrics, for example, is a useful tool to do this. The remaining 24 chapters each describe a specific water pollutant and the various established and new methods for determination.

The list of pollutants is quite complete, covering bacteriological analysis, inorganic contaminants (halogens, sulfur compounds, phosphates, cyanides, heavy metals, silicon and silicates, and trace elements) and organic contaminants (general parameters, organic nitrogen and urea, organic acids, phenolic compounds, pesticides, PCBs, polychlorinated dibenzodioxin, polychlorinated dibenzofurans, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, surfactants, and, as mentioned, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, pharmaceuticals, personal-care products, and plastics residues.

Each of these is described in great detail, with a general introduction to the class of compounds, a description of various applicable methods, and often extensive physicochemical data. The combination of method description and presentation of data makes this book more than just a textbook. This is a reference work to keep close at hand, to be used each time you need to refresh your memory or want to develop or improve a method for water analysis.

Bart Van der Bruggen is a professor at the University of Leuven (Belgium) Department of Chemical Engineering.