Taking It to the Field

Portable XRF analyzers promote easy metal analysis at remediation sites

All of us are concerned with the global impact of adverse environmental issues. Since early times, humans have known that some of the most useful metals, such as lead and arsenic, are also very toxic and need to be controlled and contained. Over the years, even more metals and alloys used for building, plumbing, preservatives, ammunition, and other uses have been added to the list of toxins. Recently, however, there has been a concerted effort not only to minimize the use of these substances, but also to remediate areas where they have been used heavily. These types of areas can range from old factories, landfill perimeters, to general demolition sites. Now there is a simple solution for those tasked with the remediation of these sites. Portable x-ray fluourescence (XRF) systems enable environmental professionals to take the analyzers to the field where the trouble is and to determine on-site, in situ which metals are present, how far they’ve spread, and how deep they go. They can use the systems for quick and easy quantitative assessments of Resource Conservation Recovery Act metals and much more.

An example of the successful use of these analyzers is in the southeastern United States after Hurricane Katrina. Researchers from the Department of Civil Architecture and Environmental Engineering at the University of Miami (UM) at Coral Gables have set new standards in chromated copper arsenate (CCA) wood treatment studies with the use of our company’s handheld XRF analyzers. Their team has been actively involved in the remediation of some of the hardest hit areas, using our handheld XRFs for on-the-spot evaluation of wood treatments. There is a section of our website explaining the use of portable analysis for environmental applications, including CCA treated woods, at www.innov-x-sys.com/ and also a video featuring the UM work at www.innov-x-sys.com/themes/IX/graphics/innoquest/environmental.html.

This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

About the Author

Donald Sackett, PhD, the CEO of Innov-X Systems, co-founded the company in early 2001. He has been active in the field of portable XRF since 1994. Sackett earned his PhD in nuclear physics at Michigan State University in 1992.

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