One of the difficulties in performing speciation analyses on solid samples is finding a suitable extraction method. Traditional methods for extraction of hexavalent chromium, Cr(VI), in soils, such as SW846 Method 3060A, can be tedious and are not always compatible with some determination methods. For example, the phosphate and high levels of carbonate and magnesium present in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Method 3060A digestion for Cr(VI) were found to be incompatible with the High Performance Liquid Chromatography-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (HPLC-ICP-MS) detection method used by our laboratory. Modification of Method 3060A by eliminating the use of the phosphate buffer provided improved performance with the detection method, however dilutions are still necessary to achieve good chromatographic separation and detection of Cr(VI).
An ultrasonic extraction method using a 1 mM Na2CO3 - 9 mM NaHCO3 buffer solution, adapted from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Method ID215, has been used with good results for the determination of Cr(VI) in air filters. The average recovery obtained for BCR-545 - Welding Dust Loaded on Filter (IRMM, Belgium) using this method was 99 percent (1.2 percent relative standard deviation) with no conversion of Cr(VI) to Cr(III) during the extraction process.
This ultrasonic method has the potential for use with other sample matrices, such as ashes and soils. Preliminary investigations using NIST 2701 (Hexavalent Chromium in Contaminated Soil) loaded onto quartz filters showed promising results with approximately 90 percent recovery of the certified Cr(VI) value. Additional testing has been done using NIST 2701 and NIST 2700 using different presentation methods. Extraction efficiency of bulk presentation, where small portions of the sample are added to the bottom of the extraction vessel, will be compared with supported presentation, where small portions of the sample are loaded onto a quartz filter prior to extraction. In addition, results obtained from the standard grinding preparation of NIST 2701 and NIST 2700 will be compared with micronizing to reduce particle size before extraction.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Evaluation of extraction methods for hexavalent chromium determination in dusts, ashes, and soils
U.S. Geological Survey
Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center