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Determination of Arsenic, Cadmium, Cobalt, Chromium, Lead, Molybdenum, Nickel, and Selenium in Fertilizers by Microwave Digestion and Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectrometry Detection: Collaborative Study

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There is increasing regulatory interest in the non-nutritive metals content of fertilizer materials, but at present there is no consensus analytical method for acid digestion and instrument detection of those elements in fertilizer matrixes. This lack of method standardization has resulted in unacceptable variability of results between fertilizer laboratories performing metals analysis. A method has been developed using microwave digestion with nitric acid at 200C, followed by inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry instrument detection, for the elements arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, molybdenum, nickel, lead, and selenium. The method has been collaboratively studied, and statistical results are here reported. Fourteen collaborators were sent 62 sample materials in a blind duplicate design. Materials represented a broad cross section of fertilizer types, including phosphateore, manufactured phosphate products, N-P-K blends, organic fertilizers, and micro-nutrient materials. As much as possible within the limit of the number of samples, materials were selected from different regions of the United States and the world. Limit of detection (LOD) was determined using synthetic fertilizers consisting of reagent grade chemicals with near zero levels of the non-nutritive elements, analyzed blindly. Samples with high iron content caused the most variability between laboratories. Most samples reasonably above LOD gave HorRat values within the range 0.5 to 2.0, indicating acceptable method performance according to AOAC guidelines for analyses in the mg/kg range. The method is recommended for AOAC Official First Action status.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Office of Indiana State Chemist, Purdue University, 175 S. University St, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2063. 2: The Mosaic Co., 3095 County Rd 640 West, Mulberry, FL 33860.

Publication date: 01 November 2006

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL publishes refereed papers and reviews in the fields of chemical, biological and toxicological analytical chemistry for the purpose of showcasing the most precise, accurate and sensitive methods for analysis of foods, food additives, supplements and contaminants, cosmetics, drugs, toxins, hazardous substances, pesticides, feeds, fertilizers and the environment available at that point in time. The scope of the Journal includes unpublished original research describing new analytical methods, techniques and applications; improved approaches to sampling, both in the field and the laboratory; better methods of preparing samples for analysis; collaborative studies substantiating the performance of a given method; statistical techniques for evaluating data. The Journal will also publish other articles of general interest to its audience, e.g., technical communications; cautionary notes; comments on techniques, apparatus, and reagents.
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