Behind the Numbers

A 90 Degree Improvement

As environmental legislation moves to lower detection limits, technology and techniques in analytical science have advanced to meet the enhanced sensitivity requirements of these new standards. The Ontario Provincial Water Quality Objectives (PWQO), Ont Reg 153/04 (Brownfields), and MISA are indicative of this regulatory trend, and keeping pace with technology evolution is a must to meet these more demanding regulations.

Lambton Scientific is constantly investing in innovative technology. One example of this commitment to innovation is our latest acquisition, an Axial View ICP-OES (Inductively Coupled Plasma – Optical Emission Spectrophotometer). This axial-view ICP complements our existing Radial-View ICP-OES. Lambton Scientific has traditionally used a radial view ICP for increased linear dynamic range, which better deals with potentially “dirtier” samples. It can also use an oxygen-assisted assembly, which allows organic-based samples (solvents, oils, etc.) to be introduced directly to the argon torch for metals quantification without the need for up-front digestion. This means that Lambton Scientific is uniquely positioned to test for metals in hydrocarbons.

In simple terms, the new Axial-view ICP rotates the torch by 90 degrees, and uses a longer measurement path length. This change from a vertical to horizontal torch orientation, results in increased sensitivity and even lower detection limits, compared to the radial-view ICP.

Axial-view ICP’s are used to determine major and minor constituents in a variety of samples. What is so innovative about this ICP is that it is able to simultaneously detect particular elements from the periodic table by measuring the electromagnetic radiation intensities produced by excited atoms and ions at characteristic wavelengths. .

Currently, Lambton Scientific is calibrated to measure the quantity of more than 30 elements (including metals commonly regulated by legislation) simultaneously from single-digit ppb to percentile concentrations. As added quality assurance, we monitor multiple emission wavelengths for each element to ensure accuracy. Having both radial- and axial-view ICPs allows us to have enhanced sensitivity, greater sample throughput and provide instrumentation backup for metals analytics. The addition of the axial view ICP has now doubled the service capacity of our metals analytics

New instrumentation cannot achieve its anticipated superior analytical sensitivity (sup-ppb), if the laboratory environment contaminated, and potentially contributes to trace metals ‘background’ in the analysis. To avoid this potential pitfall, Lambton Scientific overhauled the metals laboratory to create a ‘clean room’ environment for our ICPs. Upgraded materials, fixtures and surfaces were introduced and a dedicated, variable-speed exhaust system was installed, with the objective of ensuring the integrity of our analytical data.

To keep pace with the evolution of technology and more stringent governmental regulation, Lambton Scientific continues to invest in advanced, high-performance analytical instruments like our new axial- view ICP.

For an on-site tour of Lambton Scientific’s metals laboratory or for more help with your metals determination in assorted matrices, please feel free to contact us at or 519-344-4747.

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