Document Type


Date of Award



College of Science, Engineering, and Technology (COSET)

Degree Name

MS in Chemistry

Committee Chairperson

Bobby Wilson

Committee Member 1

Hector Miranda

Committee Member 2

Sonya Good

Committee Member 3

Daryl Wilkerson


• Drinking water contaminants • EPA and TCEQ • Heavy metals • ICP-MS


The objective of this experiment is to identify and determine the concentration of heavy metals in drinking water for different resident zip codes in the greater Houston area. Heavy metals such as arsenic, antimony, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, selenium, and others can be leaked into drinking water through household plumbing and service lines, mining operations, petroleum refineries, electronics manufacturers, chemical spills, municipal waste disposals, cement plants, and natural mineral deposits. Modern society is characterized by an increasing number of activities that can contaminate drinking water. When chemicals, animal waste, and human waste are disposed of improperly, it is more likely that they will contaminate groundwater and drinking water. A poorly treated or disinfected water supply may also cause acute and chronic toxicity in liver damage, kidney damage, intestinal damage, anemia, and cancer if the distribution system is not properly maintained. There is an increase in the demand for water suppliers to meet and comply with drinking water quality standards, they should be set by EPA, WHO, and SDWA. Consequently, the quality of drinking water varies from place to place based on the source and treatment, as contaminants can enter water supplies due to human or animal activities, threats to the drinking water may exist in the neighborhood or many miles away. Additionally, prolonged exposure to high levels of pollutants in drinking water might have negative health impacts. Therefore, the experimental protocols were as follows: the standard solutions were maintained in polypropylene or other inert containers since metals might leach from glass containers, and all 30 collected samples from 10 distinct resident zip codes (each zip code had three samples) were used. Because this procedure was suited for the quantification and qualification of heavy metals, the standards and all samples were prepared by producing the required dilutions of intermediate standard solutions with (v/v) 2% HNO3 and measured by 8800 QQQ-ICP-MS in ppb or ppm levels. And to reduce the risk of contamination, all locations and objects that used in sample preparation and analysis were maintained as dustfree as feasible. The peaks and concentrations of the samples were identified by using standard calibrations. Individual elemental graphic schemes were used to depict the data from the analyte sample findings. A literature study was used to investigate these data in further detail. The 30 drinking water samples were tested by ICP-MS multi-element analysis and determined to be compliant with government regulations; even though, the analytes for each zip code sample had different trace metal detection levels.