Improving Data Quality in the Analysis of Metals and Metal Species - A Better Path Forward

Metals Analysis and Remediation
Oral Presentation

Prepared by B. Wozniak
Brooks Applied Labs, 18804 North Creek Pkwy, Ste 100, Bothell, WA, 98011, United States

Contact Information: [email protected]; 206-753-6158


The goal of any analysis is to produce data of sufficient quality fit for its intended purpose. In the context of environmental assessments, analytical methods must accurately measure the contaminants of concern to identify if a hazard exists and whether any applied remediation techniques have been successful.

While continued advances in instrumentation (e.g., ICP-MS equipped with interference removal technologies) have made generating high quality metals data easier, the ease of use of modern instruments can also mask deficiencies in current regulatory methods and quality assurance practices. Accurate methods must account for how the chemistries of the target analyte and of potential interferents affect the sampling, preservation, digestion, and determinative steps required for producing an analytical result. In the absence of a holistic approach, biases that mislead data end users either into ignoring a "hidden" problem or attempting to address a non-existent one will continue to occur. These problems can affect not only total metals analyses but also existing methods for elemental speciation.

Case studies exemplifying pitfalls in each of the critical steps required to generate an analytical result will be presented, including how traditional quality control parameters (e.g., matrix spikes and spectral interference checks) can fail to identify such issues. General solutions for generating more robust data, as well as the complementarity of total metals and metal speciation analyses, will also be discussed.