Interlaboratory evaluation of trace element determination in workplace air filter samples by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry†‡
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Interlaboratory evaluation of trace element determination in workplace air filter samples by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry†‡

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  • Alternative Title:
    J Environ Monit
  • Description:
    Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is becoming more widely used for trace elemental analysis in the occupational hygiene field, and consequently new ICP-MS international standard procedures have been promulgated by ASTM International and ISO. However, there is a dearth of interlaboratory performance data for this analytical methodology. In an effort to fill this data void, an interlaboratory evaluation of ICP-MS for determining trace elements in workplace air samples was conducted, towards fulfillment of method validation requirements for international voluntary consensus standard test methods. The study was performed in accordance with applicable statistical procedures for investigating interlaboratory precision. The evaluation was carried out using certified 37-mm diameter mixed-cellulose ester (MCE) filters that were fortified with 21 elements of concern in occupational hygiene. Elements were spiked at levels ranging from 0.025 to 10 μg filter(-1), with three different filter loadings denoted "Low", "Medium" and "High". Participating laboratories were recruited from a pool of over fifty invitees; ultimately twenty laboratories from Europe, North America and Asia submitted results. Triplicates of each certified filter with elemental contents at three different levels, plus media blanks spiked with reagent, were conveyed to each volunteer laboratory. Each participant was also provided a copy of the test method which each participant was asked to follow; spiking levels were unknown to the participants. The laboratories were requested to prepare the filters by one of three sample preparation procedures, i.e., hotplate digestion, microwave digestion or hot block extraction, which were described in the test method. Participants were then asked to analyze aliquots of the prepared samples by ICP-MS, and to report their data in units of μg filter(-1). Most interlaboratory precision estimates were acceptable for medium- and high-level spikes (RSD <25%), but generally yielded greater uncertainties than were anticipated at the outset of the study.
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