Many metals, when dissolved in waters can be toxic to plants, animals and people. Some metal compounds can be acutely toxic at very low levels. Others can accumulate in plants or animals, building up to higher concentrations. This `bioaccumulation` can results in toxic levels of some metals (mercury compounds are well known for this effect).
For these reasons, many governments have strict regulations regarding the amount of metals that can be discharged into the environment. These `regulatory drivers` are the primary targets for our testing protocols.
In addition to Regulatory Guidelines and Limits, Agencies are requiring that industry not impair the aqueous environment in any way and as a result laboratories have been required to report metals to lower and lower levels.
Fortunately, instrumentation has improved greatly over the past few years to the point where ultratrace metals analysis is not limited by the instrument but rather the cleanliness of the sampling and sample handling techniques. Our laboratories employ clean rooms to minimize laboratory sources of contamination and proof how clean our containers and preservatives are, but what about the field environment?
One limitation of the instrumentation is that the ultratrace reporting limits cannot be achieved on samples with high dissolved solids (> 1%).
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