This is the twenty-fifth annual review published in JAAS on the application of atomic spectrometry to the chemical analysis of environmental samples. This Update refers to papers published approximately between September 2008 and August 2009. In the analysis of air, work has focused on: the need to collect and characterise ultrafines; determination of elements such as Be, Hg and PGEs in air samples; application of SRXRF techniques and advances in the development of field deployable aerosol mass spectrometry systems. In the analysis of water, significant areas of activity currently focus on elemental speciation of As, Cr, Hg and Sn. Work in increasing method sensitivities through the use of vapour generation and optimization of extraction and preconcentration procedures continues. The increased global awareness of the need to monitor levels of potentially toxic elements (PTE) in soils is desirable and this is reflected in a growing body of published literature from authors in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. However, a potential criticism of some studies is that they simply report the concentrations of analytes in particular soils or plants, without providing sufficient information on analytical quality control and with little assessment of their environmental significance, e.g. those levels that are a threat to human health. In the field of geological analysis, considerable effort is being spent not only on the production, characterization and certification of new geological reference materials, but also on enhancing the certification of existing reference materials and the development of reference materials with assigned elemental isotopic ratios. Laser ablation continues to go from strength to strength in being adopted as a solid sampling tool in geochemical analysis. Feedback on this review is most welcome and the lead author can be contacted using the email address provided.
- atomic spectrometry
- environmental analysis