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Australian Government: National Measurement InstituteAustralian Government: National Measurement Institute
National Measurement Institute
      

Trace Metal Testing in Complex Matrices

quadrupole ICP-MSDetermination of copper in saline water
using quadrupole ICP-MS

The Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality propose trigger values for a range of trace metals and metalloids for the protection of fresh and marine waters. Therefore it is important that the level of trace metals in various aquatic environments be reliably monitored on a regular basis.

As shown in the table below, NMI is able to accurately measure trace metals in complex matrices. We also have an outstanding record of saline water analysis as demonstrated by our excellent results from regular proficiency testing studies.

For further information please contact customerservice@measurement.gov.au, 1300 722 845 or use our on-line form.

Benefits of using HR ICP-MS

NMI has high resolution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (HR ICP-MS) facilities. Most laboratories use quadrupole ICP-MS, a ‘low-resolution’ instrument that cannot accurately determine environmentally significant elements such as arsenic, selenium, copper, cobalt, chromium, nickel, vanadium and zinc in saline waters and other complex matrices due to spectral interferences originating from the sample. It frequently gives false positive results that are much higher than the true concentrations in the sample. Compare results using quadrupole ICP-MS and HR ICP-MS in the figures on the right.

HR-ICP-MSDetermination of copper in saline water
using HR ICP-MS

The use of ICP-MS with reaction or collision cell capability (ICP-MS C/R) may partially remove interferences under certain well-controlled operating conditions. However, results obtained for some trace elements analysed in saline water using collision/reaction cell technology often differ from the correct value.

HR ICP-MS provides:

  • a signal-to-noise ratio 10 to 1 000 times greater than ICP-MS C/R (for ICP-MS C/R sensitivity will be enhanced or suppressed depending upon the cell conditions and may need to be compromised when multiple elements are determined)
  • resolution up to 0.001 mass units (up to 500 times greater than ICP-MS C/R) and allows separation of most common interferences
  • visual evidence (spectra) of the presence of interferences and allows characterisation of interference and analyte signal for each individual sample
  • consistently reliable analysis of trace elements in complex matrices due to its sensitivity and unique capability to resolve interferences from trace elements in complex sample types

NMI's Capabilities

Element
Standard limit of reporting
(µg/L)
Low limit of reporting
(fresh water only)
(µg/L) 
Instrument
ANZECC trigger values for fresh water (µg/L)
ANZECC trigger values for marine water (µg/L)
Level of protection (99% species)
Level of protection (95% species)
Level of protection
 (99% species)
Level of protection
 (95% species)
Ag
1
0.1
ICP-MS
0.02
0.05
0.8
1.4
Al
5
1
ICP-MS/ICP-AES
27
55
As
1
0.2
HR ICP-MS
Au
1
0.1
ICP-MS
B
5
1
ICP-MS/ICP-AES
90
370
Ba
1
0.1
ICP-MS/ICP-AES
Be
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Bi
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Br
5
5
ICP-MS
Ca
5
1
ICP-AES
Cd
0.1
0.05
ICP-MS
0.06
0.2
0.7
5.5
Ce
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Co
1
0.1
HR ICP-MS
0.005
1
Cr
1
0.2
HR ICP-MS
Cr III
5
1
not applicable
7.7
27.4
Cr VI
5
1
discrete analyser
0.01
1
0.14
4.4
Cs
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Cu
1
0.1
HR ICP-MS
1
1.1
0.3
1.3
Dy
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Er
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Eu
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Fe
5
5
ICP-AES
Ga
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Gd
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Ge
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Hf
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Hg
0.1
0.05
ICP-MS/CVAAS
0.06
0.6
0.1
0.4
Ho
1
0.1
ICP-MS
I
5
5
ICP-MS
In
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Ir
1
0.1
ICP-MS
K
50
20
ICP-AES
La
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Li
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Lu
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Mg
5
1
ICP-AES
Mn
1
0.1
ICP-MS
1200
1900
Mo
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Na
50
20
ICP-AES
Nb
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Nd
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Ni
1
0.1
HR ICP-MS
8
11
7
70
Os
1
0.1
ICP-MS
P
50
ICP-AES
P (low)
2
HR ICP-MS
Pb
1
0.1
ICP-MS
1
3.4
2.2
4.4
Pd
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Pr
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Pt
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Re
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Rb
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Rh
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Ru
1
0.1
ICP-MS
S
50
50
ICP-AES
Sb
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Sc
1
0.2
ICP-MS
Se
1
0.2
HR ICP-MS
5
11
Si
50
50
ICP-AES
Sm
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Sn
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Sr
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Ta
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Tb
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Te
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Th
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Tl
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Ti
1
1
ICP-MS/ICP-AES
Tm
1
0.1
ICP-MS
U
1
0.1
ICP-MS
V
1
0.2
HR ICP-MS
50
100
W
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Y
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Yb
1
0.1
ICP-MS
Zn
1
0.1
HR ICP-MS
2.4
8
7
15
Zr
1
0.1
ICP-MS