Atomic spectrometry update - a review of advances in environmental analysis
Owen T. Butler, Warren R. L. Cairns, Jennifer M. Cook and Christine M. Davidson
This is the 31st annual review of the application of atomic spectrometry to the chemical analysis of environmental samples. This update refers to papers published approximately between August 2014 and July 2015 and continues the series of Atomic Spectrometry Updates (ASUs) in Environmental Analysis that should be read in conjunction with other related ASUs in the series, namely: clinical and biological materials, foods and beverages; advances in atomic spectrometry and related techniques; elemental speciation; X-ray spectrometry; and metals, chemicals and functional materials. In the field of air analysis, highlights within this review period included: the development of a new laser fluorescence instrument for the ultratrace determination of mercury vapour; single particle ICP-MS studies and the coupling of elemental analysers to mass spectrometers for the improved characterisation of carbonaceous aerosols. In the arena of water analysis, methods continue to be developed: for the extraction and preconcentration of elements, As, Cr, Hg and Sb species and determination of elemental constituents in colloidal and NP fractions. Emerging elements of interest include Gd derived from MRI agents discharged at low level from medical facilities in water courses. Instrumental developments reported included the use of MC-ICP-MS for isotopic tracer studies and a review of TXRF techniques and associated preconcentration procedures for trace element analysis. In the period covered by this update several articles have explored the analysis of soil extracts for geochemical prospecting. There has been widening interest in the use of CS-AAS and in the application of techniques capable of direct sample analysis such as slurry sampling ETAAS and ETV-ICP-AES. Portable XRF instrumentation is now being used in many disciplines to quantify trace elements in soils - bringing a need for better transfer of analytical knowledge to non-specialist users - and the growing use of portable XRF in proximal sensing is also noteworthy. Recent research indicates that geological applications still drive many of the instrumental and methodological advances in LA-ICP-MS. Fundamental studies continued to shed light on the processes involved and hence ways of improving the analysis of laser-produced aerosols and to minimise matrix and fractionation effects. A new technique LA-DOF-MS (distance of flight) was described. The utility of LIBS and portable XRF for in situ survey work continues to show promise but issues such as appropriate calibration regimes and data processing protocols will still need to be addressed.
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