CDC logoSafer Healthier People CDC HomeCDC SearchCDC Health Topics A-Z
NIOSH - National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Skip navigation links Search NIOSH  |  NIOSH Home  |  NIOSH Topics  |  Site Index  |  Databases and Information Resources  |  NIOSH Products  |  Contact Us

NIOSH Program Portfolio

 

Manufacturing

NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals

927ZBCN - International Standard for ICP-MS Multielemental Trace Analysis

Start Date: 10/1/2007
End Date: 9/30/2011

Principal Investigator (PI)
Name: Kevin Ashley
Organization: NIOSH
Sub-Unit: DART
Funded By: NIOSH

Primary Goal Addressed
5.0

Secondary Goal Addressed
None


Attributed to Manufacturing
50%

Project Description

Short Summary

Parallel development of a draft ICP-MS standard method for trace measurement of metals and metalloids in workplace atmospheric samples will take place within ASTM International and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). An interlaboratory round-robin evaluation of a voluntary consensus standard ICP-MS method will be carried out internationally in order to characterize the performance of the draft standard method. Supporting laboratory work will be carried out by volunteer laboratories, which will include participating laboratories in North America, Europe and Asia.





Description

An international voluntary consensus standard test method for multielement trace analysis of workplace samples by inductively coupled plasma – mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) will be developed and validated through global collaboration mechanisms. ICP-MS is used to measure ultra-trace concentrations of elements by providing much lower detection limits for most elements than other atomic spectrometric methods that have been used traditionally in industrial hygiene chemistry. As a crucial part of ICP-MS method validation, an international interlaboratory study (ILS) is planned, with financial and technical support from ASTM International, and using volunteer laboratories in North America, Europe and Asia. Test samples for the ILS will be prepared by a highly qualified contractor which has demonstrated required capabilities for the generation of spiked filter materials having desired attributes. This project will be carried out with national and international collaborators through two leading international consensus standards organizations, i.e., ASTM International and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Millions of workers worldwide can be exposed to hazardous metals in air that are released by industrial processes and emissions. For example, the National Occupational Hazard Survey of the early 1980s revealed that in the USA alone, over 1.5 million workers are potentially exposed to cadmium, about a million are exposed to lead, nearly a million are at risk of chromium exposure, and tens of thousands are potentially exposed to beryllium. Also, there is little known about metals exposures from new areas of interest such as recycling and nanotechnology and nanostructured materials. The development of sampling and analytical methods that are sensitive, specific, accurate and reliable are essential to making correct decisions on worker exposures and to assess whether workplace controls are effective in limiting exposures.

Harmonization of international sampling and analytical methods is required to ensure that exposure measurements are comparable worldwide. Through the development of a new international voluntary consensus standard on ultra-trace elemental analysis by ICP-MS, this project aims to: 1) provide measurements with known quality and reliability; 2) ensure that comparable results can be produced worldwide; 3) support government health policy; and 4) avoid the risks to human health of producing workplace exposure data that are neither sound nor harmonized world-wide. This project embodies the national and international cooperation needed to develop, evaluate, validate, and disseminate an ICP-MS test method for the measurement of hazardous trace elements in the global workplace.

In support of a NIOSH strategic goal, “To enhance global workplace safety and health through international collaborations,” this project cultivates the national and international cooperation needed to develop, evaluate, and disseminate methods for the measurement of hazardous substances in workplaces throughout the world. This research also meets the requirements of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA). The effort addresses several NORA priorities (e.g., global collaborations, respiratory disease, cancer, exposure assessment) and offers the occupational safety and health community the capacity to prevent occupational diseases through the development of sampling and analytical methods that are reliable, accurate, and internationally harmonized.

In the field of industrial hygiene chemistry, there is a recognized need worldwide for an ultra-trace multielement analysis method that offers lower detection limits than are presently available using existing standardized analytical techniques. Promulgation of new ICP-MS international standards, as proposed in this project, will fill a global requirement for new and improved exposure monitoring and hazard assessment tools.



Objectives

The overall objective of this work is to develop national and international standards for the determination of metals and metalloids in airborne particulate matter in workplace atmospheres by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP MS). These standards will be used for ultra-trace multi-element occupational exposure monitoring, worldwide.

The existence of national and international standards will be of benefit to national and international agencies concerned with health and safety at work; analytical laboratories; industrial hygienists and other public health professionals; industrial users of metals and metalloids and their workers; and other groups.

There is a crucial need to be able to measure workplace exposure to a number of toxic metals and metalloids at ultra-trace levels (e.g., beryllium, chromium, cadmium, manganese, arsenic and lead). Workers in the manufacturing, construction and mining sectors are especially at risk of exposure to harmful metals and metalloids released by industrial processes and emissions. Also, there is little known about exposures from new areas of interest, such as nanotechnology and nanostructured materials, and recycling of electronic components. The development of sampling and analysis methods that are sensitive, specific, accurate and reliable are essential to making correct decisions on worker exposures and to assess whether workplace controls are effective. Hence, through the development of national and international standards on ultra-trace determination of metals and metalloids in airborne particulate matter by ICP-MS, this project aims to: 1) provide measurements with known quality and reliability; 2) ensure that comparable results can be produced worldwide; 3) support national health policy initiatives; and 4) avoid the risks to human health of producing workplace exposure data that are neither sound nor harmonized worldwide.

The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) of 1995 (Public Law 104-113) directs federal agencies to: (1) rely on voluntary consensus standards in lieu of procedures prepared in-house; and (2) participate in the development of relevant voluntary consensus standards. This project to produce national and international voluntary consensus standard ICP-MS methods directly addresses the goals of the NTTAA. The use of published international standards is required by law in many countries.

A new ASTM International standard, ASTM D7439, “Standard Test Method for Determination of Elements in Airborne Particulate Matter by Inductively Coupled Plasma–Mass Spectrometry,” was recently approved and published. A parallel draft ISO procedure is presently being circulated. Interlaboratory round-robin data for 21 elements at three different loading levels (plus media blanks) have been received from twenty laboratories, and the results are currently undergoing statistical analysis. Results of this work will be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed publications.

The availability of a standardized ICP-MS procedure for the determination of trace levels of metals and metalloids in workplace air samples will provide several major advances in this aspect of industrial hygiene chemistry. For one, such a method can be used to measure short-term exposures of workers to toxic elements. Also, determination of trace metals in nanoparticles will be made possible.



Mission Relevance

Validated sampling and analytical methods are required for obtaining defensible, high-quality occupational exposure data.
Through sampling and analytical development and evaluation of methods for trace elemental analysis by Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS), this project meets the following NIOSH national and international strategic goals:
i. Generate new knowledge through intramural and extramural research programs;
ii. Develop innovative solutions for difficult-to-solve problems in high-risk industrial sectors;
iii. Transfer research findings, technologies and information into practice;
iv. Build global professional capacity to address workplace hazards through training, information sharing and research experience.

This project also meets the following mission statement elements of the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology (DART):
i. Provides national and international leadership for the prevention of occupational injury and illness through applied research;
ii. Develops, evaluates, and utilizes methods for the measurement of exposures, worker sensitivity to occupational hazards, and detection of the precursors of or presence of disease or illness;
iii. Serves as a resource to researchers who may require division expertise in their field or laboratory research.

This work also addresses the following mission components of the functional statement for the Chemical Exposure and Monitoring Branch of DART:
i. Conducts research that develops, improves, and evaluates analytical methods for the determination of toxic materials, their products, and other significant hazards found in the workplace, in the physical environment, and in industrial and biologic materials;
ii. Provides validation procedures for sampling and analytical methods;
iii. Disseminates the information gained during research on sampling and analytical methods by publications in the peer reviewed literature and in the NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods.

This work supports the third strategic goal of the NIOSH Strategic Plan 2004-2009, Enhance global occupational safety and health through international collaborations. This project also supports a number of NORA sector and cross-sector goals listed above.

In sum, the development and evaluation of sampling and analysis techniques for workplace air samples is a core programmatic function of NIOSH, and this project will address sampling and analysis of trace metals by ICP-MS in the arena of workplace air quality.

Preventing or reducing occupational exposures to airborne metals and metalloids by inhalation often requires the ability to measure target elements at very low levels in workplace atmospheric samples. In occupational hygiene laboratories, atomic spectrometric techniques, especially flame and graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry (FAAS and GFAAS, respectively) and inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES), have traditionally been used to determine metals and metalloids in occupational air samples. In efforts to obtain even lower detection limits for toxic elements in workplace atmospheres than those offered by these and other analytical methods, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS) is becoming more widely used in the occupational health field.

Absence of an international standard ICP-MS procedure for workplace air quality applications was identified in meetings of voluntary consensus standards bodies (ASTM International, International Organization for Standardization (ISO)). To address the need for a standardized ICP-MS method for use by occupational hygiene laboratories, an ASTM International voluntary consensus standard ICP-MS test method was recently developed. Compared to other atomic spectrometric techniques commonly used in laboratories, ICP-MS offers improved detection limits for most elements, thereby enabling ultra-trace analysis capabilities that may be required for short-term measurements and/or reduced occupational exposure limits.

The aim of this work is to conduct an interlaboratory study of the ASTM International ICP-MS consensus standard test method, ASTM D7439, with a goal of obtaining estimates of method performance for elemental analysis based on a collaborative trial.

The interlaboratory study is being carried out in consideration of an applicable ASTM International standard practice, ASTM E691, which describes statistical procedures for investigating interlaboratory precision of ASTM standard test methods. To date there is a paucity of validation data for ICP-MS analysis of occupational air samples, and it was our desire to endeavor to fill this data void.



Page last updated: June 3, 2011
Page last reviewed: May 23, 2011
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Office of the Director

 

NIOSH Program:

Manufacturing