An interlaboratory comparison on whole water samples


The European Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC requires monitoring of organic priority pollutants in so-called whole water samples, i.e. in aqueous non-filtered samples that contain natural colloidal and suspended particulate matter. Colloids and suspended particles in the liquid phase constitute a challenge for sample homogeneity and stability. Within the joint research project ENV08 “Traceable measurements for monitoring critical pollutants under the European Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC”, whole water test materials were developed by spiking defined amounts of aqueous slurries of ultra-finely milled contaminated soil or sediment and aqueous solutions of humic acid into a natural mineral water matrix. This paper presents the results of an European-wide interlaboratory comparison (ILC) using this type of test materials. Target analytes were tributyltin, polybrominated diphenyl ethers and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the ng/L concentration range. Results of the ILC indicate that the produced materials are sufficiently homogeneous and stable to serve as samples for, e.g. proficiency testing or method validation. To our knowledge, this is the first time that ready-to-use water materials with a defined amount of suspended particulate and colloidal matter have been applied as test samples in an interlaboratory exercise. These samples meet the requirements of the European Water Framework Directive. Previous proficiency testing schemes mainly employed filtered water samples fortified with a spike of the target analyte in a water-miscible organic solvent.
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