Determination of trace elements in seawater
The results of a recently carried out proficiency test (PT) on the analysis of trace elements in natural seawater demonstrated the challenges for laboratories because of low levels of trace elements and high salt concentration in the seawater. The use of proper standard analytical methods, such as ISO 17294-2, and sensitive techniques, notably coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) was crucial to obtaining a good performance.
Most of the 46 laboratories from the EU and worldwide taking part in the proficiency test are involved in official environmental measurements; thus they are required to participate in PTs. The PT exercise was announced to accreditation bodies in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and the USA.
The monitoring of trace elements (such as arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead and zinc) is important for the implementation of the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC, which aims at achieving a long-term high level protection of the aquatic environment. Proficiency tests are carried out to assess the measurement capabilities of laboratories