Automated Analysis of Heavy Metals (Total and Speciation) in Environmental Samples

Operational Issues Impacting the Environmental Laboratory Industry
Poster Presentation

Prepared by N. Bohlim
Elemental Scientific, 7277 World Communications Dr, Omaha, Nebraska, 68122, United States

Contact Information: [email protected]; 304-991-7800


The routine analysis of environmental and/or water samples is important for monitoring/detecting harmful contaminants that pose health concerns. Elements such as Hg, Pb, and As are generally measured using ICP-MS due to its extremely low detection limit capability (ng/L and in some case fg/L levels). However, knowing the total elemental content does not tell the entire story: elements such as Cr, As, or Br can be present in elemental species of dramatically varied toxicity. Separation and quantitation of these elemental species (speciation) is accomplished chromatographically with ICP-MS as the elemental detector. In this work the prepFAST IC, an automated sample preparation and liquid chromatography system, is used to automate the analysis of total metals and elemental species. With the development of a powerful software program, Xceleri, users can seamlessly switch between ICP-MS analytical methods, allowing for automated flagging of samples for speciation, or performing unique, customized calibrations for one set of samples compared to a different set of samples. The design of the prepFAST IC allows for quick and easy switchover from total metals to speciation, dedicating one ICP-MS for total metals and speciation measurements.