Analyzing Trace Elements With EPA Method 6010

Metal elements analysis in soil and solid waste by EPA Method 6010

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), established in 1976, created a framework for effective management of both hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste, including their reuse and recovery. To ensure implementation of RCRA, EPA has developed SW-846 Test Methods for Evaluating Solid Waste: Physical/Chemical Methods  for determination of different type of contaminants in soil, sediment, and solid waste. Currently, many RCRA regulations require the use of SW846 methods while other methods are performance based wherein specific criteria are described for selection of a cost-effective method.

EPA Method 6010 is a performance-based method for determination of trace elements using ICP-OES. The method has gone through a series of updates—from EPA 6010, 6010A, 6010B, 6010C, and in July 2014, to 6010D Update V. It is usually best to use the most updated version due to rapidly changing technology.


Analysis of trace elements using EPA 6010

  • Overview: EPA 6010 is a widely used performance-based guidance for analysis of 31 trace elements in ground water, soil, sediment, and solid waste.
  • Sample preparation: Except for ground water, samples are required to be acid digested using EPA methods such as Methods 3005, 3010, 3015, 3031, 3050, 3051 and 3052, prior to analysis by ICP-OES.
  • Analysis: Because waste and soil are often highly contaminated with multiple pollutants, significant spectral overlaps can occur when using ICP-OES for element analysis. These spectral overlaps make testing results less accurate and reliable, and therefore must be identified for subsequent removal or correction during data analysis.
  • Results: EPA Method 6010 has strict quality control requirements. Quality controls have to be run immediately after instrument calibration, during the run, and after the run to meet method criteria and ensure valid and reliable results.

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Comparison of EPA Method 6010 with EPA Method 200.7

Although both EPA Method 200.7 and EPA Method 6010 use ICP-OES for trace element analysis, they are developed for different purposes and have different method requirements:

  • EPA Method 200.7 uses ICP-OES for regulatory compliance for drinking water analysis. The method can also be used for analysis of other matrices, such as wastewater, groundwater, soil, sediments, and solid waste.
  • Method 6010 was developed for RCRA regulations and the method cannot be used for regulatory compliance monitoring for Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act.

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  •  View this presentation for a detailed comparison of the two methods

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