We report on the separation and preconcentration of lead(II) and copper(II) ions using silver-coated titanium dioxide nanoparticles modified with cysteamine, and their determination by slurry analysis via flame atomic absorption spectrometry. The ions were adsorbed via a conventional batch technique, and the ion-loaded slurry was separated and directly introduced into the spectrometer, thereby eliminating a number of drawbacks. The effects of pH, amount of sorbent, slurry volume, sample volume and other ions on the recovery were investigated. Under optimized experimental conditions, copper and lead can be recovered within the 95% confidence level in certificated waste water, but also in spiked sea water samples. The technique is fast, simple, and leads to complete elution. The limit of detection (3δ, at n = 10) was 0. 37 μg L-1 for Cu(II), and 0. 38 μg L-1 for Pb(II). © 2011 Springer-Verlag.