Trace Metal Analysis of Air Condensate

Richard is part of a group that investigates trace metals within these air condensate samples using ICP-MS. He wanted some information as to how to prepare the samples using nitric acid and why this type of preparation was required.

Dear Richard,

Air contains somewhere between 1 and 50 million particles per cubic meter depending upon rural or urban locations. The metals present are in particulate form and nitric acid would be used to dissolve the particulate matter since the metals must be in solution to be analyzed by conventional ICP-MS using pneumatic nebulization as the mode of sample introduction.

Typically samples are digested in sealed Teflon digestion vessels. Some particulate matter may not completely dissolve with nitric acid alone and for this reason some methods use a combination of HCl and nitric acid.

I would like to refer you to EPA method 200.8, which is intended for the analysis of water and wastes. This method can be found on the EPA website.

Best wishes with your analysis.

Serving you in chemistry,

Paul R. Gaines, Ph.D.
CEO of Inorganic Ventures & Fellow Chemist

DISCLAIMER: Advice offered by the chemists at Inorganic Ventures is intended for the individual posing the question. Feel free to contact us to verify whether these suggestions apply to your unique circumstances.