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Soil Testing – AWQC places the pedal to the metal

Trace and heavy metals occur naturally in soils and rocks. Increasingly, human activities (industrial pollution) are contributing higher quantities of these metals into the environment and, as they accumulate, both human and environmental health can ultimately suffer. Possible sources of metal pollution into the ecosystem include combustion of fossil fuels, municipal waste incineration, industrial processes producing wastewater and emitting pollutants into the air, the agricultural use of sludge1 and irrigation with treated wastewater. Hence regular analysis and monitoring of metals present within soil is extremely important across many key industrial sectors including Agriculture, Horticulture, Mining and for Contaminated Site investigations.

The Australian Water Quality Centre (AWQC) has recently expanded its soil, sludge and dry weight testing capabilities to enable the analysis of 32 different trace and heavy metals using a combination of inductively coupled plasma techniques (ICPOES and ICPMS). This test is NATA accredited and provides results with great accuracy and speed. AWQC’s soils metal suite with associated limits of reporting (LOR) is detailed in Table 1.

MetalsLOR (mg/kg)MetalsLOR (mg/kg)
Aluminium1.0Magnesium5.0
Antimony0.5Mercury0.03
Arsenic0.3Molybdenum0.1
Barium0.5Nickel0.1
Beryllium0.3Phosphorous5.0
Boron20.0Potassium5.0
Cadmium0.1Selenium0.1
Calcium10.0Silver0.03
Chromium0.1Sodium10.0
Cobalt0.1Sulphur50.0
Copper0.5Strontium0.1
Iron0.5Thallium0.1
Lanthanum0.1Tin0.5
Lead0.1Titanium0.1
Lithium0.3Vanadium0.1
Manganese1.0Zinc0.3

Table 1: AWQC’s Trace Metals Analysis in soil, sludge and dry weight samples together with the associated limits of reporting (LOR)

[1] Sabudak, T.; Seren, G.; Kaykioglu, G.; Dincer, A.R. ‘Determination of Trace Elements in Soil and Sunflower (Helianthus annus L.) Plant Parts’, Fresenius Environmental Bulletin, Vol. 16, No. 10, 2007, Pg. 1274.