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Freedom from Biased Data

In 1983, the first inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) was introduced, revolutionizing metals analysis. The new technology allowed for metals to be analyzed with unprecedented productivity and the ability to attain ultra-low detection limits with excellent precision and accuracy. While there are many benefits with ICP-MS metals analysis, there are also drawbacks inherent to the methodology and many different types of interferences, such as isobaric, polyatomic, and double-charged, ions that can result in skewed data. Employing various interference reduction technologies, such as collision cell and reaction cell, work great for many of these interferences; however, the different mechanisms utilized by each method have uniquely inherent limitations. The more recent technology employed by the Agilent 8800 ICP Triple Quad (ICP-QQQ) utilizes non-reactive gases such as helium as well as reactive gases like ammonia, oxygen, and hydrogen. The unique configuration of this instrument greatly reduces variability, ensuring delivering greater accuracy and more consistent results. Unless you know exactly what all the constituents are in your sample, you cannot predict what kind of interference you may have and the ability to run an instrument in different modes and look for matching results between the modes increases the probability of a successful project while lowering the overall cost.

If you would like to learn more about the topic of avoiding analytical interferences, you may view a presentation given by BRL’s Technical Director, Dr. Hakan Gürleyük, at the 2015 Department of Defense Environmental Monitoring and Data Quality meeting, Analysis for Arsenic and Hexavalent Chromium: How to avoid false positives and increase data quality. For more specific information about how the various options for interference reduction technology can support your project or for a quotation, feel free to contact us.

BRL Provides Rare Earth Element Analyses for Phytotoxicity Studies

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.

Happy 5-Year Anniversary to Tamas Ugrai

tamas_profileThis month Brooks Rand Labs gets the pleasure of celebrating the milestone of working with Tamas Ugrai for five years. Tamas has been a key member of our Trace Metals team. He came to Brooks Rand with nearly ten years of experience with ICP-MS analysis. Now with his lengthy experience in the industry, he is able to do it all: sample preparation, analysis by ICP-MS including various interference reduction technologies such as DRC, KED, and QQQ, speciation by IC-ICP-MS, instrument repair, and method development. Tamas continues to be a clever and caring coworker deserving of our appreciation. Cheers, Tamas!