The overall efficiency of ion chromatographic procedures allows the possibility of routine separation and detection of common inorganic and organic anions and cations at low levels in a simultaneous system. A simple and rapid independent separation, and sensitive simultaneous detection of monovalent common anions and cations were achieved using 2 mM copper sulfate, (at pH: 5.40), as eluent with low cell-volume potentiometric detectors. This was established using all-solid state contact, tubular, PVC-matrix membrane anion and cation-selective electrodes in series as detectors with mixed-bed ion-exchange column in ion chromatography. The developed method is reproducible and highly selective to monovalent anions and cations, and takes less than 8 min. Under all operation conditions, the detection Limits of the developed method, for potassium, rubidium, cesium, thallium(I), nitrite, nitrate, benzoate and bromide, were of the order of tens of ppb, for sodium, ammonium, chloroacetate, cyanate and chloride ions, values were of the order of hundreds of ppb for an injected volume of 20 mu l. The method was flexible since most of anions do not interfere the detection of cations and most of cations do not affect the detection of anions, so that the method can be applied to many sample types e.g. environmental. The application of the method for river, sea and tap water samples were illustrated. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.