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Guidance for analysis of soil contamination using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometer

TR 2016/22

Report: TR 2016/22

Author: Pattle Delamore Partners Ltd

About this report

This report provides a literature review and recommended procedures for the use of portable X-ray fluorescence measurements of trace elements in soils; primarily during contaminated land investigations.

It is not intended to be a training manual or standard upon which all field-based XRF work should be compared to; rather it is a guide to help the reader understand the limitations and appropriate usage of the method based on current international best practice.  

The advantages of portable XRF include real-time, low-cost results with minimal sample preparation; but disadvantages include low accuracy, higher detection limits, limited scope of contaminants and interference.  To date, research and practice indicate that portable XRF results are semi-quantitative; and this report recommends that the method is best applied in combination with laboratory analysis to enhance decision-making for contaminated land investigations and remediation. 

Read or download the report

Guidance for analysis of soil contamination using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometer [PDF, 3.3 MB]

  Executive summary ii
1.0 Introduction 1
1.1 Acknowledgements 1
2.0 The place of field portable x-ray fluorescence in contaminated site investigations 2
2.1 Advantages and disadvantages 2
2.2 Use of field portable XRF 4
2.3 FP-XRF sampling strategies 7
3.0 Elements suitable for XRF analysis 9
3.1 Factors which influence limits of detection 9
4.0 Factors affecting XRF analysis accuracy 11
4.1 Interferences and sources of error 11
5.0 XRF safety considerations 15
6.0 Sample analysis procedures 15
6.1 On-site analysis 15
6.2 Quality assurance/quality control 20
7.0 Data analysis and interpretation 24
8.0 Reporting on results 25
9.0 References 26
  Glossary - a guide to common x-ray fluorescence terms 30