A collaborative interlaboratory evaluation of a newly standardized inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS) method for determining trace beryllium in workplace air samples was carried out toward fulfillment of method validation requirements for ASTM International voluntary consensus standard test methods. The interlaboratory study (ILS) was performed in accordance with an applicable ASTM International standard practice, ASTM E691, which describes statistical procedures for investigating interlaboratory precision. Uncertainty was also estimated in accordance with ASTM D7440, which applies the International Organization for Standardization Guide to the Expression of Uncertainty in Measurement to air quality measurements. Performance evaluation materials (PEMs) used consisted of 37mmdiameter mixed cellulose ester filters that were spiked with beryllium at levels of 0.025 (low loading), 0.5 (medium loading), and 10 (high loading) ug Be/filter; these spiked filters were prepared by a contract laboratory. Participating laboratories were recruited from a pool of over 50 invitees; ultimately, 20 laboratories from Europe, North America, and Asia submitted ILS results. Triplicates of each PEM (blanks plus the three different loading levels) were conveyed to each volunteer laboratory, along with a copy of the draft standard test method that each participant was asked to follow; spiking levels were unknown to the participants. The laboratories were requested to prepare the PEMs by one of three sample preparation procedures (hotplate or microwave digestion or hotblock extraction) that were described in the draft standard. Participants were then asked to analyze aliquots of the prepared samples by ICP-MS and to report their data in units of µg Be/filter sample. Interlaboratory precision estimates from participating laboratories, computed in accordance with ASTM E691, were 0.165, 0.108, and 0.151 (relative standard deviation) for the PEMs spiked at 0.025, 0.5, and 10 µg Be/filter, respectively. Overall recoveries were 93.2%, 102%, and 80.6% for the low, medium, and high beryllium loadings, respectively. Expanded uncertainty estimates for interlaboratory analysis of low, medium, and high beryllium loadings, calculated in accordance with ASTM D7440, were 18.8%, 19.8%, and 24.4%, respectively. These figures of merit support promulgation of the analytical procedure as an ASTM International standard test method, ASTM D7439.
Kevin Ashley, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Applied Research and Technology, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Mail Stop R-7, Cincinnati, OH 45226-1998