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The Use of Field-Portable X-ray Fluorescence Technology in the Hazardous Waste Industry

  • G. A. Raab (a1), C. A. Kuharic (a1), W. H. Cole III (a1), R. E. Enwall (a1) and J. S. Duggan (a1)...


As the Environmental Protection Agency adds ever more sites to the National Priorities List for Superfund clean-up, there is a tremendous need for a fast method of screening for contaminants. In the case of inorganics, we can apply field-portable X-ray fluorescence technology.

With commercially available field-portable X-ray fluorescence equipment using in-situ measurements we can quickly screen a site (hundreds of measurements), input the data to a portable computer, process it, and print a colored concentration isopleth map of the contaminant of interest, all in realtime.

The in-situ measurement approach pioneered by Lockheed is the key to rapid screening capability. Problems arising from particle size distribution, soil heterogeneity, and bulk density are minimized by employing site-specific standards in the construction of our calibration curves. Inherent in these site-specific standards are all the matrix problems which occur in the routine samples.

The strength of field-portable X-ray fluorescence technology is the accuracy of analysis above the quantitation limits. The difficulty in measuring low concentrations near the detection limit is the weak point of field-portable units.

NOTICE: Although this research was funded in part by the U.S. EPA through Contract 68-03-3249 to Lockheed Engineering & Sciences Company, it has not undergone Agency review and does not necessarily reflect Agency policy.



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Columbia Scientific Industries Corporation (1988). X-MET 880 Portable XRF Analyzer Operating Instructions.
Raab, G.A., Cardenas, D., and Simon, S. J., (1987). Evaluation of a Prototype Field Portable X-Ray Fluorescence System for Hazardous Waste Screening. EPA/600/4-87/021. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Las Vegas, NV, 33 p.
Raab, G.A., Faber, M. L., and Simon, S. J., (1999). Development of a Field Portable X-Ray Fluorescence System for On-Site Hazardous Waste Screening, In: Proceeding of the Thirteenth Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium. Mining Association of British Columbia, pp. 137-172.
U.S. EPA (1986). User's Guide to the Contract Laboratory Program. Office of Emergency and Remedial Response, Washington, D.C., 20460.
U.S. EPA (1989). Contractor Laboratory Program Statement of Work for Inorganic Analyses, SOW No. 788, Attachment A.

The Use of Field-Portable X-ray Fluorescence Technology in the Hazardous Waste Industry

  • G. A. Raab (a1), C. A. Kuharic (a1), W. H. Cole III (a1), R. E. Enwall (a1) and J. S. Duggan (a1)...


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