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Chemistry International
Vol. 23, No. 1
January 2001


New Books and Publications

In Situ Monitoring of Aquatic Systems: Chemical Analysis and Speciation. Vol. 6, IUPAC Series on Analytical and Physical Chemistry of Environmental Systems (Series Editors: Jacques Buffle and Herman P. van Leeuwen). Edited by Jacques Buffle and George Horvai. John Wiley & Sons Ltd. (2000), pp. xviii + 1-623. ISBN 0-471- 48979-4.


To enable efficient interpretation of the functioning of ecosystems such as lakes, oceans, or ground water, the recording of large data sets is essential, in order to take into account natural spatial and temporal variations correctly. This undertaking requires the use of a network of in situ or onfield sensors or analytical devices, for continuous, real-time monitoring of major, minor, and trace components, simultaneously at a large number of locations in the ecosystem, and at various depths in the water columns or ground water. Such a huge number of analyses is not feasible by using the classical approach based on sample collection, storage, and transportation, followed by sample handling in the laboratory. Robust sensors and instruments for automatic in situ or on-site measurements should thus be developed. This approach is required not only for the reason of cost effectiveness, but also for scientific reasons.

Indeed, determinations of minor and trace inorganic and organic compounds have become more and more important for water quality assessment. Classical analyses of these compounds, however, are often prone to many artifacts that can only be overcome by in situ measurements, avoiding the sampling step.

This book includes the most important in situ sensors and analytical systems. Chapter 1 discusses general concepts that should be considered for the development of any type of sensor, in order to get reliable and environmentally relevant information. It also helps the reader to place the various chapters in perspective to each other, inside a common frame. The next four chapters deal with sensors for in situ measurements of major components: O2 (Chapter 2), pH and CO2 (Chapter 3), S2- (Chapter 4), and Ca2+ and N species (Chapter 5). Chapters 6, 7, and 9-11 deal with sensors and analytical systems for minor or trace organic or inorganic components. In these cases, the signal most often depends on the speciation of the test analyte. All these chapters thus discuss speciation aspects relevant to each technique. Chapter 8 is specifically devoted to the physicochemical principles needed to understand how dynamic chemical equilibria, such as metal complexation, affect the signal of analytical devices based on flux measurements. Because most trace compound determinations are based on such flux measurements, we have found it important that a rigorous formulation of these general physicochemical concepts, and some examples of their applications to a few sensor types, be described in a specific chapter.

Finally, the book ends with the existing microtechniques that could be used for the fabrication of in situ sensors or microanalytical systems. Although very few complete analytical systems have yet been built based on this technology, and none of them for environmental application, it is clear that the fabrication of at least key components (such as microelectrodes, microreactors, etc.) of in situ analytical devices should thus greatly profit from microtechnologies. The main purpose of this chapter is to stimulate ideas for new microsensor or microanalytical system construction, by using the concepts of microsensors described in Chapters 2-6, which were built with more classical technologies.

This book should provide researchers interested in the development of in situ sensors and analytical systems with the appropriate updated literature and critically evaluated information. However, we hope that it will be even more helpful to laboratories in charge of water quality assessment, by providing them with updated information on existing sensors and analytical systems, their present capabilities, and the expected future developments. In most cases, either detailed technical information is given or the corresponding literature is cited, which should help any interested scientist to start using these analytical devices in an appropriate manner. Thanks to the theoretical background discussed in particular for methods related to speciation, correct interpretation of the data should also be made easier, even for the nonspecialist.

Jacques Buffle,
University of Geneva,
Geneva, Switzerland

George Horvai,
Technical University of Budapest,
Budapest, Hungary


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