Document Type


Date of Award



College of Science, Engineering, and Technology (COSET)

Degree Name

MS in Environmental Toxicology

First Advisor



The determination of anions, cations and trace metals in drinking water is becoming increasingly important due to health problems associated with these inorganic and organic contaminants. In the Houston metropolitan area, our basic sources of drinking water are the municipal water and commercial bottled water. Most often, the decision to use either or both of these water sources stems from the fear that the "water in the Houston area is contaminated." In the recent study conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) on bottled water, the astonishing conclusion was that some of the bottled water contain contaminants that would not pass the strictest state standards for tap water, and some even had cancer linked compounds and others had bacteria that could be a problem for very young children or adults with weakened immune systems (Remedy, 1999). This study hypothesizes that there is no difference in the quality of water whether from bottled or municipal drinking water based on the anions analyzed. In order to examine this hypothesis, three objectives were proposed. To examine the anionic contaminants in the municipal water and compare them with a health based guideline 1 2 established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (2) To examine the anionic contaminants in the commercial bottled or drinking water and also compared them with the EPA guideline. (3) To compare the anions of the different bottled water companies. The procedures applied to evaluate these problem were ion chromatography and ion selective electrodes. The chromatography provides a single instrumental technique for rapid sequential measurements of anions and cations. The ion selective electrode is another technique that measures anions and cations in water or fluid but it's only designed to measure one parameter at a time. It is used in this study as a reference method except for the pH analysis. After an extensive study of the municipal drinking water and the bottled water, evidence shows that the city of Houston's municipal water is in compliance with the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. It also showed that the Municipal water district maintains a higher water quality standard than some commercial bottled water companies that pride themselves as "safe and better than the Municipal water." Above all, the water meets standards for human consumption.