Environmental iodine speciation quantification in seawater and snow using ion exchange chromatography and UV spectrophotometric detection

Matthew R Jones, Rosie Chance, Ruzica Dadic, Henna-Reetta Hannula, Rebecca May, Martyn Ward, Lucy J Carpenter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The behaviour and distribution of iodine in the environment are of significant interest in a range of scientific disciplines, from health, as iodine is an essential element for humans and animals, to climate and air quality, to geochemistry. Aquatic environments are the reservoir for iodine, where it exists in low concentrations as iodide, iodate and dissolved organic iodine and in which it undergoes redox reactions. The current measurement techniques for iodine species are typically time-consuming, subject to relatively poor precision and require specialist instrumentation including those that require mercury as an electrode. We present a new method for measuring iodine species, that is tailored towards lower dissolved organic carbon waters, such as seawater, rainwater and snow, using ion exchange chromatography (IC) with direct ultra-violet spectrophotometric detection of iodide and without the need for sample pre-concentration. Simple chemical amendments to the sample allow for the quantification of both iodate and dissolved organic iodine in addition to iodide. The developed IC method, which takes 16 min, was applied to contrasting samples that encompass a wide range of aqueous environments, from Arctic sea-ice snow (low concentrations) to coastal seawater (complex sample matrix). Linear calibrations are demonstrated for all matrices, using gravimetrically prepared potassium iodide standards. The detection limit for the iodide ion is 0.12 nM based on the standard deviation of the blank, while sample reproducibility is typically <2% at >8 nM and ∼4% at <8 nM. Since there is no environmental certified reference material for iodine species, the measurements made on seawater samples using this IC method were compared to those obtained using established analytical techniques; iodide voltammetry and iodate spectrophotometry. We calculated recoveries of 102 ± 16% (n = 107) for iodide and 116 ± 9% (n = 103) for iodate, the latter difference may be due to an underestimation of iodate by the spectrophotometric method. We further compared a chemical oxidation and reduction of the sample to an ultra-violet digestion to establish the total dissolved iodine content, the average recovery following chemical amendments was 98 ± 4% (n = 92). The new method represents a simple, efficient, green, precise and sensitive method for measuring dissolved speciated iodine in complex matrices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number340700
Number of pages11
Early online date21 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Authors.


  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Iodine/analysis
  • Iodides/analysis
  • Iodates/analysis
  • Snow
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Seawater/chemistry
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Chromatography, Ion Exchange

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