How does a reference electrode in a pH sensor become contaminated?

A reference electrode can become contaminated when poisoning ions such as lead, iron, chrome, cyanide, or sulfide enter the reference electrode and react either with the silver wire or with the electrolyte solution.

The contamination may not become apparent until the silver-chloride coating is completely dissolved and the electrical potential from the reference electrode has changed greatly. If this occurs, the reference electrode must be replaced.

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