This is the 27th annual review published in Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry of the application of atomic spectrometry to the chemical analysis of environmental samples. This Update refers to papers published approximately between September 2010 and August 2011 and continues the series of Atomic Spectrometry Updates (ASUs) in Environmental Analysis 1 that should be read in conjunction with other related ASU reviews in the series, namely: clinical and biological materials, foods and beverages;(2) advances in atomic spectrometry and related techniques;(3) elemental speciation;(4) X-ray fluorescence spectrometry(5) and industrial analysis: metals, chemicals and advanced materials.(6) To celebrate the 25th anniversary of JAAS, a 25-year retrospective of ASU reviews has been published(7) to highlight the development and evolution of atomic spectrometric techniques and their use in measurement applications. Specific to this review, in the field of air analysis there is ongoing interest in measuring atmospheric Hg species and evaluating procedures for the determination of the carbonaceous content of airborne particulate matter. In a measurement arena where RMs are relatively scarce, a number of useful interlaboratory comparison studies have been reported. In the field of water analysis, as in previous years, the main areas of activity are the development of preconcentration and extraction procedures and elemental speciation protocols for elements such as As, Cr and Hg. There is increasing interest in evaluating TXRF for trace analysis. In the field of soil and plant analysis, sample dissolution and extraction remain a major focus of interest-especially methods to assess bioavailability-and there is a hint that 'greener' approaches, using less concentrated acid, are becoming important. Especially notable are the continued developments in LIBS, a shift towards more widespread use of techniques such as HPLC-ICP-MS and synchrotron-based XRF, and growth in studies where multiple techniques have been applied to the same sample for trace element mapping or speciation analysis. Less desirable are the publication of variants on well-established analytical methods with marginal novelty and several instances where substantially similar articles appeared almost simultaneously in more than one journal, thus generating 'two publications for the price of one'. It is evident that MC-ICP-MS and LA-MC-ICP-MS are now so widely available in geoanalytical laboratories that applications papers, that include little of novelty from an analytical perspective, dominate the literature. However, this trend should not mask the vital research required to underpin and improve the quality of the geochemical data on which any interpretation is based. Another observation is the high proportion of analytical and applications papers with Chinese authors, reflecting the rise of atomic spectrometry in China over the past number of years. Feedback on this review is most welcome and the lead author can be contacted using the email address provided.
- atomic spectrometry
- chemical analysis