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Determination of trace pollutants in the iron and steel industry

Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is a powerful and, in the meantime, established method for trace and ultra-trace analysis. The aim of this project was to adapt the capabilities of ICP-MS to the needs of the steel industry. For this reason, several European laboratories from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Luxembourg worked together in a collaborative interaction to evaluate and improve the ICP-MS technique.

Corresponding to the growing interest in controlling environmental pollution caused by residues from the industry, electric arc furnace dusts examined. A homogeneity test was carried out using XRF. A method for trace analysis of electric arc furnace dusts using ICP-MS was developed and optimised. An inter-laboratory test was performed for trace analysis of two dust materials using ICP-MS to assure the reliability and the reproducibility of the analytical procedure. This test indicates satisfactory reproducibility of the results obtained by the same analytical procedure in different laboratories using different, equipment as well as an excellent performance of the calibration procedure. In addition to this, leaching tests were carried out, in order to evaluate the mobile fraction of metals in the dust samples.

Besides the development of appropriate sample preparation procedures including preconcentration steps and matrix separation, several tasks for sample introduction such as coupling of hydride generation technique, ultrasonic nebulization and FIAS for ICP-MS were successfully treated.

The laboratory information management system (LIMS) was modified for adaptation to the applied ICP-MS technique, to facilitate the integration of the system to support routine analyses and to fulfil the requirements of the quality assurance procedure.

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