Open Access Research article

Validation of an analytical method based on the high-resolution continuum source flame atomic absorption spectrometry for the fast-sequential determination of several hazardous/priority hazardous metals in soil

Tiberiu Frentiu1, Michaela Ponta1* and Raluca Hategan2

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Babes-Bolyai University, 11 Arany Janos, 400028 Cluj-Napoca, Romania

2 Regional Environmental Protection Agency, 99 Dorobantilor, 400609 Cluj-Napoca, Romania

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Chemistry Central Journal 2013, 7:43  doi:10.1186/1752-153X-7-43

Published: 1 March 2013

Abstract

Background

The aim of this paper was the validation of a new analytical method based on the high-resolution continuum source flame atomic absorption spectrometry for the fast-sequential determination of several hazardous/priority hazardous metals (Ag, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn) in soil after microwave assisted digestion in aqua regia. Determinations were performed on the ContrAA 300 (Analytik Jena) air-acetylene flame spectrometer equipped with xenon short-arc lamp as a continuum radiation source for all elements, double monochromator consisting of a prism pre-monocromator and an echelle grating monochromator, and charge coupled device as detector. For validation a method-performance study was conducted involving the establishment of the analytical performance of the new method (limits of detection and quantification, precision and accuracy). Moreover, the Bland and Altman statistical method was used in analyzing the agreement between the proposed assay and inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry as standardized method for the multielemental determination in soil.

Results

The limits of detection in soil sample (3σ criterion) in the high-resolution continuum source flame atomic absorption spectrometry method were (mg/kg): 0.18 (Ag), 0.14 (Cd), 0.36 (Co), 0.25 (Cr), 0.09 (Cu), 1.0 (Ni), 1.4 (Pb) and 0.18 (Zn), close to those in inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry: 0.12 (Ag), 0.05 (Cd), 0.15 (Co), 1.4 (Cr), 0.15 (Cu), 2.5 (Ni), 2.5 (Pb) and 0.04 (Zn). Accuracy was checked by analyzing 4 certified reference materials and a good agreement for 95% confidence interval was found in both methods, with recoveries in the range of 94–106% in atomic absorption and 97–103% in optical emission. Repeatability found by analyzing real soil samples was in the range 1.6–5.2% in atomic absorption, similar with that of 1.9–6.1% in optical emission spectrometry. The Bland and Altman method showed no statistical significant difference between the two spectrometric methods for 95% confidence interval.

Conclusions

High-resolution continuum source flame atomic absorption spectrometry can be successfully used for the rapid, multielemental determination of hazardous/priority hazardous metals in soil with similar analytical performances to those in inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry.

Keywords:
High-resolution continuum source flame atomic absorption spectrometry; Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry; Bland and Altman statistical method; Soil analysis; Hazardous/priority hazardous metal

Graphical abstract