Environmental Science

Application Notes

  • Env01 : Micro-XRF analysis for lead contamination in toys.  
  • Min01 (XGT10) : Micro-XRF analysis for geological applications.

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Articles

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X-ray fluorescence is a well established technique used for environmental science investigations, such as quantitative analysis of contaminants in soils, identification of radioactive elements (eg, uranium), composition analysis of rocks and minerals, characterisation of materials for recycling etc. The development and maturation of micro-XRF now allows researchers to focus on individual microscopic particles, and to create detailed element images. Typical samples studied by environmental scientists are disordered, heterogeneous, and/or fragile, so the non-destructive micro-analysis capability of the XGT systems is ideally suited.

As “green” issues continue to dominate news headlines, it becomes increasingly important for manufacturers and importers to ensure that they meet the necessary government regulations (for example, RoHS and ELV).  Beyond this, many strive still further to minimise their environmental impact, in all areas of their business – this can include packaging, transport, waste and recycling etc.  The XGT instruments are ideally suited for analysis of many consumer items, since their spacious sample chambers allow analysis without having to dismantle or cut the object.   Typical analyses would include tests for toxic elements (such as Lead or Cadmium) and characterisation of halogen composition (to meet “halogen-free” production goals).

Key areas which benefit from micro-XRF include:

  • Marine/ocean sediments
  • Airborne particles and air filters
  • Toxic element build up in tissue/cells
  • Soils
  • RoHS/ELV
  • Slurry
  • Meteorites
  • Recycling materials
  • Harmful elements in consumer goods
  • Halogen-free testing
  • Packaging
  • Lead in toys

Example

XRF imaging of a granite rock illustrates a band of high iron concentration, caused by leaching of biotite through the micro-structure of the rock. The result of such leaching is weakening of the rock structure, which can then make it susceptible to slippage and landslides in periods of extreme weather conditions.