British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Available options for the determination of ultra trace elements in pristine environments Hua, Timothy


There are many key factors that require consideration when trying to successfully determine elemental concentrations at ultra-low levels. Some of these processes include: sample collection, preservation, preparation and the consideration of the choice of instrumental technique for analysis. These all must be taken into account in order to ensure the highest quality and accuracy of the resulting data. This paper will discuss some of the options available for advanced contamination control as well as analytical techniques available for reporting extremely low detection limits. Instrumentation such as high resolution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (HR-ICPMS) and hydride generation atomic fluorescence spectrometry (HG-AFS) will be discussed. High resolution ICPMS coupled with a clean working environment and procedures has shown through experimental data that for baseline monitoring work, where samples are relatively free of interferences, that extremely low detection limits are accurately achievable to the low parts per trillion levels for many elements including, cadmium, arsenic and selenium. The versatility of high resolution ICPMS has also been extended to biological and seawater testing along with numerous other applications. Hydride generation AFS has also been demonstrated to be capable of accurate measurements to the low parts per trillion levels for selenium and arsenic. This technology also has the added benefit of being able to measure to these levels in the presence of high chloride concentrations.

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