Co-occurrence profiles of trace elements in potable water systems: a case study

Syam S. Andra, Konstantinos C. Makris, Pantelis Charisiadis, Costas N. Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Potable water samples (N = 74) from 19 zip code locations in a region of Greece were profiled for 13 trace elements composition using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. The primary objective was to monitor the drinking water quality, while the primary focus was to find novel associations in trace elements occurrence that may further shed light on common links in their occurrence and fate in the pipe scales and corrosion products observed in urban drinking water distribution systems. Except for arsenic at two locations and in six samples, rest of the analyzed elements was below maximum contaminant levels, for which regulatory values are available. Further, we attempted to hierarchically cluster trace elements based on their covariances resulting in two groups; one with arsenic, antimony, zinc, cadmium, and copper and the second with the rest of the elements. The grouping trends were partially explained by elements’ similar chemical activities in water, underscoring their potential for co-accumulation and co-mobilization phenomena from pipe scales into finished water. Profiling patterns of trace elements in finished water could be indicative of their load on pipe scales and corrosion products, with a corresponding risk of episodic contaminant release. Speculation was made on the role of disinfectants and disinfection byproducts in mobilizing chemically similar trace elements of human health interest from pipe scales to tap water. It is warranted that further studies may eventually prove useful to water regulators from incorporating the acquired knowledge in the drinking water safety plans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7307-7320
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number11
StatePublished - 3 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemical grouping
  • Co-occurrence
  • Trace elements’ mixtures
  • Urban drinking-water distribution systems
  • Water and Health
  • Water quality indicators


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