Multi-element plant analyses are routinely carried out in all Member States for monitoring purposes, mapping and risk assessment. It is estimated that about 60 000 laboratories were performing plant analyses in all Member States. In addition, about 1 000 plant analyses are estimated to be carried out for more than 10 elements in each laboratory. This would mean that 60 000 single element results are produced each year in Europe.
For many years the multi-element reference material (kale) has been famous and after considerable success is now exhausted. Initially it was thought that only few elements or compounds were of sufficient ecotoxicological interest that they should be monitored constantly; they appeared on the so-called black and grey lists. However, with increasing understanding of environmental mechanisms, it became clear that elements not considered before (e.g. Pt-group) as being of environmental interest as well as elements which could be considered as tracers or indicators for human activities (e.g. Sc) or having synergetic or counteracting effects (e.g. Mo) should be considered as well. An example of this changing interest is given by the strong increase of the number of Pt-determinations. However, many results of this multi-element evaluation were unsatisfactory due to a lack of control of accuracy of the determinations. It has been shown that nearly 90 % of the analyses of multi-elements in the last years were wrong or insufficiently controlled. As an example, these errors were calculated to cost about 1 700 000 000 ECU in Germany each year (Chemische Rundschau, 15/89); the cost within the whole European Community was estimated to be 10 times higher.
The need for reference materials characterized for as many elements as possible was therefore addressed for a quality control in such projects. It is planned to characterize the material for up to 60 elements each of them to be determined by 3 or 5 laboratories.
In progress. The analytical work will start in 1993.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts