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A re-examination of platinum-group element concentrations in the environmental certified reference material BCR-723

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A detailed statistical examination of replicated data used to certify platinum-group elements (PGEs) in environmental reference material BCR-723 is presented. Certification of Pt, Pd, and Rh concentrations in BCR-723 was based on 16, eight, and nine accepted data sets, respectively. Each accepted data set contained six replicated measurements for each PGE, and the statistical properties of these concentration data were examined, i.e. 96 for Pt, 48 for Pd, and 54 for Rh. This level of investigation has received limited attention but is critical in furthering our understanding of PGE variability and representativeness. Concentrations of Pt, Pd, and Rh were shown to differ significantly between accepted data sets. Palladium and Pt differed in their quantification between detection techniques. Additionally, Pd and Pt concentrations varied significantly between laboratories using a similar definitive method (inductively coupled plasma-isotope dilution mass spectrometry). The distribution of Pd concentrations was found to be bimodal, with a secondary population exhibiting a contamination signal of about 15%. The secondary population, not previously reported in BCR-723, is likely a measurement artifact and not due to a nugget effect. Comparisons of BCR-723 with other environmental media from Europe, i.e. airborne particulate matter, tunnel dust, and road-deposited sediment, indicated that Pd is uncommonly low in BCR-723 (6.0 ng g-1) and is generally not representative in terms of its distribution relative to Pt and Rh. Serious consideration should be given to developing a new PGE certified environmental reference material.
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Keywords: Airborne particulate matter; Certified reference material; Interlaboratory comparison; Palladium; Platinum; Rhodium; Road-deposited sediment; Statistical methods; Tunnel dust

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Geomorphology Laboratory, Department of Geography, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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