Scheduling environmental samples for metals testing

What is the difference between metals analysis by ICP-OES and ICP-MS? Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) methodologies utilise an argon plasma operating at approximately 10,000°K (significantly hotter than the surface of the sun).

Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES) measures the intensity of light emitted by the excited atoms and ions produced in the plasma as they decay to their unexcited state.  Each element emits light at different wavelengths producing a unique emission spectrum. This works well for elements at parts per million levels.

This technique is used at Chemtest to analyse soil samples for acid soluble sulphate, iron, aluminium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium and phosphorous as well as water soluble boron, sulphate, magnesium and chromium.

Emission spectrum for iron

Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) measures ionised species by separating them on the basis of their mass to charge ratio. As a method it is subject to very little baseline interference and can quantify metallic elements reliably down to parts per billion levels in environmental samples.

This technique is used at Chemtest to analyse soil and water samples for aluminium, antimony, arsenic, barium, boron, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, molybdenum, nickel, selenium, thallium, tin and zinc as part of our standard suites but other bespoke suites are available to include almost all metallic elements.

Contact us to find out more about our metals testing.


ICP mass spectrum for several elements
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A number of different publications and standards cite sulphate methods. BR279 (1995) has largely been superseded by analytical procedures as detailed in TRL 447 and BRE Special Digest:1 2005 3rd Edition. In addition further reference may be made to BS EN 144-1:2009 + A1:2012 for the testing of aggregates and BS 1377:2018 for soils for civil engineering purposes.

Testing to meet the requirements of UKWIR Report Ref. No. 10/WM/03/21 Guidance for the selection of water supply pipes to be used in brownfield sites.

Testing & reporting is undertaken in accordance with BS 3882:2015 Specification for topsoil and BS 8601:2013 Specification for subsoil and requirements for use

All Asbestos Methods