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Quality and comparability of measurement of potentially toxic elements in urban soils by a group of European laboratories

Davidson, Christine M. and Nordon, Alison and Urquhart, Graham J. and Ajmone-Marsan, Franco and Biasioli, Mattia and Duarte, Armando C. and Diaz-Barrientos, Encarnation and Grcman, Helena and Hodnik, Andreja and Hossack, Iain and Hursthouse, Andrew S. and Ljung, Karin and Madrid, Fernando and Otabbong, Erasmus and Rodrigues, Sonia (2007) Quality and comparability of measurement of potentially toxic elements in urban soils by a group of European laboratories. International Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry, 87 (8). pp. 589-601. ISSN 0306-7319

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Abstract

A study has been conducted to assess the quality and comparability of measurement of aqua-regia-soluble cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, lead, and zinc in urban soils within a small cohort of European research laboratories specializing in soil science or environmental analytical chemistry. An initial survey indicated that highly variable levels of analytical quality control (e.g. use of certified reference materials) were routinely implemented in participant laboratories. When a set of soil samples-differing in metal contents and in characteristics such as pH and organic-matter content-were exchanged and analysed, approximately 20% of results differed from target values by more than 25%. A principal-component analysis was applied to data for chromium, copper, nickel, lead, and zinc, and proved successful in assessing overall laboratory performance. The study indicates that greater prominence needs to be given to quality assurance and control if comparable data are to be generated in international, collaborative research projects.