With the construction industry booming globally, especially in countries like China, Philippines and the UK, organisations need to look at how they are going to manage on-site contaminants screening for building sites.
Heavy elements have been used for years in many industrial, agricultural, and domestic applications. This has sometimes resulted in their accumulation in specific geographical areas, such as old industrial or mining sites.
Because of their detrimental impact on human health, many departments for public health and environment around the world have put in place soil screening and remediation programs to minimise and prevent exposure. In the United States for example, its Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has put in place Soil Screening Guidance (SCG) to provide a framework for site evaluation and screening level development.
Using a handheld XRF analyser for soil screening helps site managers to considerably reduce analyses costs, by reducing the number of samples sent to an off-site laboratory: you can quickly identify the areas that require clean-up. By being able to determine the elemental composition of soil samples, both qualitative and semi-quantitative data can assist with decisions on further sampling strategy for the full assessment of soil quality. It also helps with monitoring remediation efforts.
Christelle Petiot, Product Manager, shares the benefits, limitations and her tips on how to get good results with a handheld XRF analyser for soil analysis:
Why invest in the latest handheld XRF analysers?
- They’re fast. Latest advances in detector electronics have significantly reduced testing time. You’ll be able to increase test density for better-informed decision making and save time, as you’ll complete site screening surveys faster. No need to wait for lab results which can take weeks.
- They’re fully portable and usable in harsh environments and weather conditions. Compact and lightweight, some HHXRFs like the X-MET8000 are IP64 rated (dust and splash water proof). and tested to MIL-STD-810G military standard for robustness.
- ‘Point and shoot’ simplicity. No chemicals or reagents required and it works whilst wearing your gloves. With no or simple sample preparation required, it really is easy.
What you will need to consider
- How detailed results do you need? The limits of detection are not as low as techniques like ICP-OES, ICP-MS or flame-AAS), so HHXRF cannot totally replace laboratory analysis .
- What range of elements are you looking to measure? A handheld analyser is not sensitive enough for very light elements such as Li and Be. Typical elements range from Mg to U, depending on your application.
My tips on getting good results
- The more effort you put into the pre-treatment of soil samples, the better the results:
- Remove debris, rocks, and flatten the area to test with a non-metallic object to smooth out the surface.
- Dry out the samples as much as you can. You can use absorbent paper, and/or leave the sample to air-dry in a well ventilated area if needed as moisture above 10% will have a detrimental effect on the results accuracy. Results are typically 70% – 80% of the laboratory reported values when they contain 15 to 25% water.
- Sieve and/or grind to obtain a fine particle size, and then place the powder in a thin sample bag or cup.
- Measure a blank (e.g. SiO2 in a cup) at regular interval to check for contamination; change analysis window when needed.
- Measure a known soil check sample at regular intervals to verify accuracy and stability.
Want to find out more?
Read our Application Note on on-site contaminants screening in soil or find out more about how our X-MET8000 Expert Geo handheld X-ray fluorescence analyser could help you.
The need for a rapid, simple analysis (carried out by non-laboratory staff) at mines makes a handheld X-ray analyser the ideal analytical technique for analysis of Coltan.
Hitachi High-Tech’s X-MET8000 Expert Geo provides fast and accurate on-site analysis of a wide variety of mining sample types, such as drill cores, rocks, cuttings and powders. Results are available in seconds, enabling users to make decision on the spot and reduce costs significantly by reducing the number of samples sent to off-site laboratories.
When mineralogy varies significantly between sites, users can use the X-MET’s unique matrix correction to adjust calibrations and improve accuracy further.
Read more about how you can apply the X-MET8000 Expert Geo for rapid analysis of Coltan by downloading our application note.
You may still find that drilling or excavation control on-site requires you to send samples for laboratory analysis, with results taking days to come back. But what if you were able to reduce the number of samples sent to a laboratory and achieve significant cost savings at the same time?
Here’s our guide on how our X-MET8000 Expert Geo handheld analyser could help you:
1) Measure up to 40 elements in real time on-site
X-MET8000 Expert Geo analyser can be used for geochemistry applications including on-site environmental screening, mining exploration, planning and grade control. It can measure up to 40 elements, with additional elements available on request.
2) Results on the go
Complete testing programs faster and rely less on laboratory analysis as X-MET8000 offers results in seconds with real time data sharing for fast decision making. Over 100,000 results can be stored in the analyser, downloaded to a USB or PC in CSV format or PDF whilst fully customised reports can also be created. Sharing results on-the-go with colleagues and clients is easy with the OiConnect app.
3) Reliability even in the harshest environments and weather conditions
The analyser is rugged and IP54 rated (dust and splash water proof), so can confidently be used indoors and outdoors, even in hot environments. Downtime is minimal as it is ready to analyse in just 20 seconds from start up. With a long battery life (up 10-12 hours), you can work all day on a single battery charge.
4) Save time and money
Saving time is a good thing, and time is money. X-MET8000 Expert Geo reduces the need for laboratory analyses and their associated costs. As it’s quick to use, you can carry out high volumes of analyses and complete testing programs quickly.
5) For now and the future
The BOOST™ technology used in X-MET8000 Expert Geo delivers up to 10 times the sensitivity of other handheld XRF models, ensuring performance today and in the future, especially as ore grades quality decreases.