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Optical Emission Inductively Coupled Plasma in Environmental Analysis

Environment: Water and Waste

  1. Mark E. Tatro1,
  2. Dulasiri Amarasiriwardena2

Published Online: 29 SEP 2008

DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a0848.pub2

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

How to Cite

Tatro, M. E. and Amarasiriwardena, D. 2008. Optical Emission Inductively Coupled Plasma in Environmental Analysis. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    Spectra Spectroscopy & Chromatography Specialists, Inc., Warwick, NY, USA

  2. 2

    School of Natural Science, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 29 SEP 2008

This is not the most recent version of the article. View current version (16 SEP 2016)


The ability of the inductively coupled plasma-atomic (or optical) emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES (or OES))) system to perform multielement trace metal analysis of environmental samples provided commercial laboratories with the needed incentive to enter into the business of efficient trace metal analysis. Previously, trace metals were typically analyzed using colorimetric techniques, which were both cumbersome and subject to interferences, or flame atomic absorption techniques, which, although almost interference free, were labor intensive owing to their one-element-at-a-time analytical mode. Even the furnace atomic absorption technique, for years the standard bearer of low-level trace metal analysis, is giving way to axial and radial viewed ICP-AES techniques. Now, ICP-AES has become an affordable and well-established multielement analytical method.

Taking the USEPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) SW-846 solid waste analysis manual as an example, this article reviews the methods used for the preparation of samples and the ICP-AES analysis of the prepared samples for trace metals in environmental matrices. This review includes recent developments in front-end improvements in ICP-AES and a detailed overview of the quality control (QC) requirements for environmental ICP-AES analysis.