Technically, rare earth elements (Ce, Dy, Er, Eu, Gd, Ho, La, Lu, Nd, Pr, Pm, Sm, Sc, Tb, Tm, Yb, and Y) are not truly rare (with a few exceptions), and they may be found liberally dispersed within the Earth’s crust. Most of the rare earth elements (REE) are mined in China (95%), but in response to a recent increase in demand for REEs used in manufacturing of modern technology, former and new mining facilities have been placed in production throughout North America.

In the spirit of being enthusiastically fearless for taking on unusual or unique analytical challenges, BRL routinely provides REE analyses at ppb concentrations in soils and vegetation for the research of REE phytotoxicity and uptake in soils. In the recent journal article Uptake and Effects of Six Rare Earth Elements (REEs) on Selected Native and Crop Species Growing in Contaminated Soils(Carpenter et. al., PLoS ONE (2015) 10,6), the application of the REE data provided by BRL was examined, inciting additional research into the phytotoxicity and accumulation of REE in our environment. In this study soils, specific native wild plants, and crop plants were analyzed for Pr, Nd, Sm, Tb, Dy, and Er. Differences in above ground and below ground plant mass were quantified, demonstrating marked differences in growth patterns of crop plants verses wild native plant species.

Two other similar studies were also recently published using REE analytical data from BRL: Cerium Chloride Heptahydrate (CeCl3·7H2O) Induces Muscle Paralysis in the Generalist Herbivore, Melanoplus sanguinipes (Fabricius), fed Contaminated Plant Tissues (Allison et. al., Chemosphere 120 (2015) 674-679) and Rare Earth Elements (REEs): Effects on Germination and Growth of Selected Crop and Native Plant Species (Thomas et. al., Chemosphere 96 (2014) 57-66). The overall conclusion from each study is that further quantification of REE accumulation in the environment is needed to assess the effects of these not-so-rare rare earth elements. Please contact us if you’d like more information regarding these articles or to discuss how analysis of REEs can support your upcoming project.