Application of flexible multi-elemental ICP-OES detection in fractionation of potentially toxic element content of solid environmental samples by a sequential extraction procedure

György Heltai, Zoltán Győri, Ilona Fekete, Gábor Halász, Katalin Kovács, Anita Takács, Lamlile Khumalo, Márk Horváth

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Remediation of areas contaminated by potentially toxic elements (PTE) requires the appropriate assessment of the environmental mobility of contaminants. The fractionation techniques developed for agrochemical and environmental purposes model the pathways of environmental mobilization mainly by sequential extraction procedures. In Europe mostly the simplified extraction scheme proposed by Community Bureau of Reference (BCR) in 1993 is widely used, why only to this certified sediment sample (BCR 701) is available, certified for fractionation of six elements (Cu, Cd, Cr, Ni, Pb, Zn). In the BCR extracts the reagent- solvents applied in leaching steps cause strong matrix interferences when for determination the PTE-contents of these solutions the multielemental capacity of inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) should be utilized. Due to the different source of contamination the flexible multi-elemental ICP-OES method should be applied for analysis of the different BCR-extractant-solvent media which makes possible the reliable detection of all occurring PTE in the area. For this purpose as the most adequate solution the application of ICP-OES spectrometer with charge-coupled device (CCD)-detection was selected which is able to record the entire spectral range between 120 and 800 nm. On the basis of detailed study of BCR-solvent-matrix- and expected-analite-line interferences it was established that the sensitivities of the prominent lines of pollutant elements strongly depend on the type of extractants. For improving the accuracy of analytical results obtained for soils and environmental sediments, matrix matched calibration, internal standardization and robust plasma conditions were recommended and optimized. The successful application of this methodology is presented for a PTE-contaminated lake sediment sample and for selected typical Hungarian soil samples stored in sample bank of Hungarian Soil Protection Information and Monitoring System.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104029
JournalMicrochemical Journal
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019



  • Fractionation
  • Multielemental determination
  • Potentially toxic element
  • Sediments and soils
  • Sequential extraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy

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