Accurate and minute measurement seems to the non-scientific imagination, a less lofty and dignified work than looking for something new. But nearly all the grandest discoveries of science have been but the rewards of accurate measurement and patient long-continued labour in the minute sifting of numerical results.

– Baron William Thomson Kelvin

Being a lab that is specialized in trace metals analysis and metals speciation means that we have the focus and flexibility to achieve precision, accuracy, and ultra-low detection limits for many elements that most routine labs cannot accomplish. Many commercial labs do not even maintain the standards required for calibration and quality control for large groups of elements. We test for a wide variety of elements, including but not limited to:

  • Manganese
  • Tungsten
  • Rare earth elements (REE)

Manganese Speciation

Manganese (Mn) speciation can provide invaluable information about mobility and bioavailability, as well as determining potential treatment options.  Brooks Applied Labs offers an operationally-defined method where the reduced manganese [Mn(II)] and oxidized manganese [Mn(IV)] species are determined in water samples by physical separation using anoxic filtration through 0.45-µm filters (smaller porosity filters may be used if colloidal Mn species are of concern). For this maganese speciation technique, two containers are collected per sample, one that is unfiltered and one that is field-filtered anoxically using ventable in-line filters.

Rare Earth Element Analysis

Despite the name of this group of elements, many rare earth elements (REE) are actually quite abundant in the Earth’s crust, but they are only found in very isolated areas and can be fairly non-existent in most routine environmental samples. For meaningful data is to be obtained, extremely low detection limits may be required. In addition, some of the REE are not very stable and analysis can be troublesome with common ICP-MS digestion methods.  Brooks Applied Labs uses very specialized preservation and digestion methods specific to each REE and has a low calibration standard of 10 parts-per-trillion to ensure detection of REE at ultra-trace levels.


Tungsten (W) typically exists at sub part-per-billion levels in stream water and seawater, so ultra-low detection limits are essential to quantify low-level concentrations in environmental samples, monitor for minor concentration changes, and accurately establish trends.

Tungsten also has a very low solubility making it a problematic element to analyze by routine methods due to the difficulty of extraction from solid samples and particulates in water samples. Carry-over or memory effects at the instrument are also very common.  Brooks Applied Labs utilizes an extensive digestion that is robust enough to fully extract tungsten from the matrix with an acidic solution that includes hydrofluoric acid prior to analysis.

Brooks Applied Labs has some of the lowest detection limits commercially available to our clients. View our MDL & MRL Table.