Testing for Metal Contamination in Water & Solid Matrices

Various metals exist in our environment. Some metals are necessary and harmless, such as nutrients like iron and zinc, while others, like mercury and lead, can cause adverse health issues for humans and the environment. If heavy metal contamination is known or suspected to be at dangerous levels in water or soil, a certified environmental lab like ARA can help determine the types and concentrations.

 

No matter your project requirements, ARA's accredited environmental laboratory is equipped to help you meet your deadlines with high quality data and a dedicated team of professionals to help you every step of the way. We employ various testing methods for metals and other contaminants in your water and soil samples, depending on the matrices, type and your project requirements.

 

Concentrations of many metals are determined by Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) by mass spectrometry (MS). The ICP is used to ionize the sample while the mass spectrometer is used to separate and quantify those ions. Calibrating the instrument with known standards allows for an unknown sample to be quantified.

 

Mercury is analyzed by cold vapor atomic absorption (CV-AA).  This analysis detects mercury by measuring the absorption of light by Mercury in an elemental gaseous state.

 

Methods 6020 (ICP-MS) and 7470/7471 (Mercury) are used when analyzing surface water, ground water and solid matrices.

 

Methods 200.8 (ICP-MS) and 245.1 (Mercury) are used for drinking water and waste water samples.  

 

Aqueous samples can be analyzed for either total or dissolved metals.  When "Total Metals" is requested, a digestion process is performed, which breaks down chemical bonds, releasing metals into solution.

 

When analyzing for "dissolved metals", the sample is filtered rather than digested prior to analysis. Only the concentrations that are in solution are detected and reported.

 

Solid samples always require digestion prior to analysis by ICP.

The following metals are commonly reported:

 

Aluminum
Antimony
Arsenic
Barium
Beryllium
Boron
Cadmium
Calcium
Chromium
Cobalt
Copper
Gold
Iron
Lead
Lithium
Magnesium
Manganese
Mercury
Molybdenum
Nickel
Phosphorus
Potassium
Selenium
Silicon
Silver
Sodium
Strontium
Thallium
Tin
Titanium
Uranium
Vanadium
Zinc