A simple and very inexpensive in-situ nebulizer/hydride generator was used with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) for the determination of As, Sb, Bi and Hg in water samples. The application of hydride generation ICP-MS alleviated the sensitivity problem of As, Sb, Bi and Hg determinations encountered when the conventional pneumatic nebulizer was used for sample introduction. The sample was introduced by flow injection to minimize the deposition of solids on the sampling orifice. The elements in the sample were reduced to the lower oxidation states with L-cysteine before being injected into the hydride generation system. This method has a detection limit of 0.003, 0.003, 0.017 and 0.17 ng ml-1for As, Bi, Sb and Hg, respectively. This method was applied to determine As, Sb, Bi and Hg in a CASS-3 nearshore seawater reference sample, a SLRS-2 riverine water reference sample and a tap water collected from National Sun Yat-Sen University. The concentrations of the elements were determined by standard addition method. The precision was better than 20% for most of the determinations.
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