Trace metals - heavy metals in water,  who cares?

Our technology, in short

Sensitivity, detection limit:

three times the system noise gives detection limit of 5ng/l  (or 5*10-12)  on Zn, Cd, Pb and Cu

naturally occurring in clean Atlantic seawater has:

2ng/l of Cd,             30ng/l of Pb                 200ng/l of Cu                    1000ng/l of Zn


example test with 80 measurements put on top of each other to show stability:

Long term measurement:

6 weeks automated continuously almost 900 analysis and almost one result every hour with standard addition two times to each sample:

Are heavy metals or trace metals in water important to monitor?

Norwegian pollution authorities are not concerned about heavy metals ions in water. Often called bioavailable metals because it is in the water and all animals and plants are exposed to it.

Further development of combining sensitivity and repeatability at a long term autonomous technology and extending the technology to several more metals might be interesting but who cares, not in Norway so enjoy the future.

Heavy metals also called trace metals because of the low concentrations are a natural and necessary part of the biological system. In concentrations over certain limits, however, the heavy metals are toxic to organisms. Heavy metals commonly monitored are lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu), mercury (Hg), nickel (Ni), zinc (Zn) and chromium (Cr), because of pollution from industry or other sources. Most of these metals accumulate in organisms and in the food chain, and their toxicity is both acute and chronic. Low concentrations in seawater of cadmium, for instance, are sufficient to give chronic effects in organisms and ecosystems. Methods used in monitoring systems have to be accurate and be able to detect heavy metals in low concentrations


Pb, lead

As of 2016, the Pure Earth Toxic Sites Identification Program has identified more than 700 high-priority sites around the world where exposure to lead threatens the health of the population. Approximately 13 million people are at risk for exposure to lead globally

Health effects associated with lead exposure include neurotoxicity, developmental delays, hypertension, impaired hearing acuity, impaired haemoglobin synthesis and male reproductive impairment.

Cr, chromium

It is estimated that approximately 5 million people are at risk for exposure to chromium globally, with an estimated burden of disease of more than 1.4 million DALYs (Disability Adjusted Life Years). As of 2016, the Toxic Sites Identification Program has identified more than 300 sites around the world where exposure to chromium threatens the health of the population.

General health effects from exposure to hexavalent chromium include damage to the gastrointestinal, respiratory and immunological systems, as well as reproductive and developmental problems. Furthermore, hexavalent chromium is a known human carcinogen.

Hg, mercury

Pure Earth estimates are that more than 8 million people are at risk for exposure to mercury globally. As of 2016, the Toxic Sites Identification Program has identified more than 400 sites around the world where exposure to mercury threatens the health of the population. It is estimated that the livelihoods of at least 100 million people are dependent on ASGM, nearly all of whom use quicksilver to extract gold from ore.45

High levels of mercury can impact human health by harming the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and immune systems. It can be introduced through inhalation, ingestion and dermal contact, but the most severe pathway of mercury exposure is through mercury vapours that may reach the brain and respiratory system to cause permanent damage. Inhalation of mercury vapour can produce higher incidences of kidney and autoimmune dysfunction within ASGM communities. ASGM workers have reported tremor, vision disorder and muscle weakness as just some of the many symptoms experienced as a result of their work.46,47 Exposure to mercury, even in small amounts, may cause serious health problems and is a threat to the development of a child in utero and early in life.48 Expecting mothers can transmit mercury through the consumption of mercury-contaminated foods. This can lead to neurodevelopmental problems in developing fetuses.


Groundwater Pollution

Facts and Findings Excerpted from  State of the World 2001, Groundwater Pollution :

"Toxic chemicals are contaminating groundwater on every inhabited continent, endangering the world's most valuable supplies of freshwater, reports a study from the Worldwatch Institute. This survey shows that a toxic brew of pesticides, nitrogen fertilisers, industrial chemicals, and heavy metals is fouling groundwater everywhere and that the damage is often worst in the very places where people most need water.

In the next 50 years, an additional 3 billion people are expected to inhabit the Earth, creating even more demand for water for drinking, irrigation, and industry. But we're polluting our cheapest and most easily accessible supply of water. Most groundwater is still pristine, but unless we take immediate action, clean groundwater will not be there when we need it."  Groundwater is an essential resource for sustaining civilisation. Some 97 per cent of the planet's liquid freshwater is stored in underground aquifers. Nearly one-third of all humanity relies almost exclusively on groundwater for drinking. Almost 99 per cent of the rural U.S. population, and 80 per cent of India's villagers depend on groundwater for drinking.

Groundwater irrigates some of the world's most productive cropland. Irrigation already accounts for about two-thirds of water use worldwide. As rivers and lakes are dammed, dried up, or polluted, and as food demand grows in the next 50 years, farmers will become increasingly dependent on groundwater for irrigation. "

  RELATED INFORMATION: Trouble Beneath our Feet:

Offshore activity

The increase in production water in the Northern sea with large volumes and with two measuments a year with quantification limit 1000 times abowe the natural level, restrictions on monitoring heavy metals gives an uncontrolled pollution of this area with huge and important fishing resources. The effect on the water has not been explored

What to do?

Best way of be capable of giving early warning of increased concentrations is to be able to follow the natural variations. Heavy metals are present in seawater at very low concentrations, together with very high concentrations of various salts making the analytical work difficult. Heavy metals are a natural and needed part of biological systems, but only up to limited concentrations. An increasing part of the worlds coastal waters see raised concentrations of  heavy metals, many places above the toxic threshold. The main problem about these man-made pollutants is that they are not broken down and hence, the heavy metals are concentrated in the food chain. All measurements of heavy metal concentrations are up to now based on mean values for a period of time or a "snap-shot" of the situation. In either case the samples has to be analysed in a laboratory afterwards and has not the possibility of giving an early warning in case of environmental monitoring and do not provide time series being representative for the natural fluctuations of the trace metal concentrations. Monitoring technology gives continuous in-situ measurements and calculating of heavy metal concentrations in seawater with possibility of early warning. Increased values of heavy metals will be discovered immediately and not by chance after a catastrophe.

Contact us by sending a message:

DADA AS, Data Acquisition and Data Analysis

enviromental monitoring projects

├ůsveien 26

N-1369 Stabekk