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Trace metal testing in complex matrices

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The level of trace metals in aquatic environments must be reliably and regularly monitored to protect fresh and marine waters.

The Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality has proposed trigger values for a range of trace metals and metalloids. 

Our services

The National Measurement Institute (NMI) can accurately measure trace metals in complex matrices.

We have high resolution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (HR ICP-MS) facilities. 

HR ICP-MS provides:

  • a signal-to-noise ratio 10 to 1 000 times greater than ICP-MS C/R (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

Most laboratories use quadrupole ICP-MS that frequently gives false positive results much higher than the true concentrations in the sample. 

Why choose us

NMI is Australia’s peak measurement body and offers:

  • personalised service
  • accurate HR ICP-MS facilities
  • full analytical reports tailored to meet your requirements 

We have an outstanding record of saline water analysis from regular proficiency testing studies.

Limits of reporting

These are our limits of reporting for each trace metal.

Element

Standard limit of reporting

(µg/L)

Low limit of reporting

(fresh water only) (µg/L)

Instrument
Ag 1 0.1 ICP-MS
Al 5 1 ICP-MS/ICP-AES
As 1 0.2 HR ICP-MS
Au 1 0.1 ICP-MS
B 5 1 ICP-MS/ICP-AES
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
Ce 1 0.1 ICP-MS
Co 1 0.1 HR ICP-MS
Cr 1 0.2 HR ICP-MS
Cr III 5 1 not applicable
Cr VI 5 1 discrete analyser
Cs 1 0.1 ICP-MS
Cu 1 0.1 HR ICP-MS
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
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
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
Os 1 0.1 ICP-MS
P 50 ICP-AES
P (low) 2 HR ICP-MS
Pb 1 0.1 ICP-MS
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
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
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
Zr 1 0.1 ICP-MS

Limits of reporting against trigger values

These are our limits of reporting against the Australian and New Zealand Environment Conservation Council (ANZECC) trigger values for fresh and marine water.

Element Standard limit of reporting (µg/L) Low limit of reporting (fresh water only) (µg/L) ANZECC trigger values for fresh water (µg/L) Level of protection (99% species) ANZECC trigger values for fresh water (µg/L) Level of protection (95% species) ANZECC trigger values for marine water (µg/L) Level of protection  (99% species) ANZECC trigger values for marine water (µg/L) Level of protection  (95% species)
Ag 1 0.1 0.02 0.05 0.8 1.4
Al 5 1 27 55
B 5 1 90 370
Cd 0.1 0.05 0.06 0.2 0.7 5.5
Co 1 0.1 0.005 1
Cr III 5 1 7.7 27.4
Cr VI 5 1 0.01 1 0.14 4.4
Cu 1 0.1 1 1.1 0.3 1.3
Hg 0.1 0.05 0.06 0.6 0.1 0.4
Mn 1 0.1 1200 1900
Ni 1 0.1 8 11 7 70
Pb 1 0.1 1 3.4 2.2 4.4
Se 1 0.2 5 11
V 1 0.2 50 100
Zn 1 0.1 2.4 8 7 15

Turnaround times

Our standard turnaround time is 5-30 days.

We also offer 1, 2 and 3 working day turnaround times where agreed.

Submitting samples 

Find out how to submit your environmental testing samples

Request a quote or discuss your requirements 

Contact us for a quote or to discuss how we can tailor our services to meet your analysis requirements. 

Read more

See our full range of environmental testing and analysis services.

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Last updated: 12 November 2020

Content ID: 64581