LA-ICP-MS analysis of waste polymer materials
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Waste polymer materials were analyzed by laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). The concentrations of 35 elements were determined by using different types of external standards, namely glass and polyethylene (PE) based. Prior to the LA-ICP-MS analysis of determined elements, Na and/or Zn were used as internal standards. The investigations concentrated mainly on the detection of Cr, As, Cd, Sn, Sb, Hg, and Pb. Using PE-based calibration standards, the measured concentrations in the waste polymers were within 49% of the wet chemical data. The determined deviation was up to 102% when using the glass standards. Trace concentration of As and Hg (and also of S) could be determined with a concentration below 1 mg/kg. However, Hg provided very low intensity with a high relative standard deviation (RSD) and was therefore not further evaluated. Cryomilling of polymers was applied to reduce the particle size of the material and improved the precision and accuracy of LA-ICP-MS analysis. On average, the LA-ICP-MS results showed a deviation from the wet chemical reference analysis of 38% and an RSD of 56% for pressed polymer powder samples prepared by cryomilling. In general, waste pellets without sample preparation (i.e., use of pellets as delivered) are too heterogeneous, not suitable for micro-beam techniques, and showed a strong matrix dependence. With homogeneous pellets that appear similar to each other agreement in the determined concentrations was found for some elements.
KeywordsLaser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) Polymer waste pellets Certified reference materials Cryogenic impact mill Trace element detection
The financial support by the Federal Ministry of Economy, Family and Youth and the National Foundation for Research, Technology and Development in Austria is gratefully acknowledged.
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