Evaluation of the Ultraviolet Spectrophotometric Method for the Measurement of Total Nitrogen in Water Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract.— A simple, accurate, and environmentally sound procedure based on spectroscopy in the UV range was modified to measure total nitrogen concentrations in both freshwater and brackishwater. Water samples from freshwater fish ponds were analyzed for total nitrogen with the persulfate digestion method followed by analysis of nitrate with the UV method for comparison with the NAS reagent method. Brackishwater samples with salinities of 8 to 10 ppt from shrimp ponds were digested by the persulfate method and analyzed with the UV method. Percentage recovery of nitrogen and also precision were evaluated for the UV method. Nitrate concentrations in the freshwater persulfate digests determined by the UV method were similar to those obtained by the NAS reagent method (P < 0.05). The slope of the regression line did not differ from 1.0 (P < 0.05). Precision of both methods was acceptable over the range of nitrogen concentration used, but precision of the UV method tended to be better than that of the NAS method. Spike recovery averaged 97.4% in the NAS reagent method and 107.2% in the UV method. Interference from organic matter was minor in the UV method, because virtually all of the organic matter was oxidized during the digestion. Precision with brackishwater samples was slightly better than the freshwater samples and percentage spike recovery averaged 102.8%. Because spectrophotometers in most laboratories have the capability of reading in the UV range, the UV method is an attractive alternative for total nitrogen analysis.

publication date

  • January 1, 1999