The analysis of environmental materials by ICP-AES
The category of environmental materials includes air, plant material, animal tissue, domestic dust, road dust, industrial and domestic refuse, sewage sludge, water (both waste and for consumption), sediment and soil. Water analysis is dealt with separately in Chapter 8, while soils and sediments are best analysed by the methods described in Chapter 5 on applied geochemistry. All of the remaining materials are at present analysed largely by AAS methods, at least in respect of their heavy metal content. To some extent then, the application of ICP to the analysis of environmental materials merely requires minor modifications to existing sample decompositions, extended where necessary by the preconcentration of low-trace analytes. The analyst simply takes advantage of the multielement capacity of ICP-AES to increase the scope of his scan, and thus avoids the possibility of overlooking an unsuspected irregularity in the concentration of an unusual contaminant. For example, the analysis of air particulates by ICP-AES seems to be an attractive proposition, although hardly exploited so far.
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