Disclaimer & Copyright Notices; Optimized for the MS Edge

A selection of tests performed by laboratories

Soil & Water Conservation Society of Metro Halifax (SWCSMH)

Revised: May 26, 2017                                                                      Parameters and stats

Source: Info sheets provided during January of 2002 by:

Tamara McFarland BSc., Assistant Project Manager
PSC Analytical Services
200 Bluewater Road
Bedford, Nova Scotia, B4B 1G9

phone: 902 420-0203, fax: 902 420-8612
toll free: 800 565-7227


Img-pin.gif  Rapid Chemical Analysis package (RCApTM) Img-pin.gif  Metals in Soils and Sediments
Img-pin.gif  Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH)

RCAp Parameters

The RCAp is designed to analyse thirty standard water quality variables which, when viewed collectively, give a broad and complete inorganic profile of the water.

The RCAp is performed using highly automated instrumentation and advanced robotics which ensures fast turnaround time and high quality analyses at low cost:

Methods used are those defined by the American Public Health Association and/or the U.S. EPA.


The RCAp requires a polyethylene bottle for general water chemistry and a nitric acid preserved polyethylene bottle for trace metals. To prevent losses of ammonia, a sulphuric acid preserved bottle is recommended.

Quality Assurance

Precision and accuracy are assured through the evaluation of Certified Reference Materials, method blanks, duplicates and spikes. Secondary QC involves validating the results based on the anion and cation balance.

and ionic valence
(Estimated Quantification Limits)
Atomic NumberAtomic Weight/
Molecular Weight
SodiumNa+0.1 mg/L1122.98977
PotassiumK+0.1 mg/L1939.0983
CalciumCa2+0.1 mg/L2040.08
MagnesiumMg2+0.1 mg/L1224.305
Hardness as CaCO3 0.1 mg/L  
IronFe0.2 mg/L2655.847
ManganeseMn0.01 mg/L2554.9380
CopperCu0.01 mg/L2963.546
ZincZn2+0.05 mg/L3065.38
Alkalinity as CaCO3 1 mg/L  
SulphateSO42-2 mg/L 96.058
ChlorideCl-1 mg/L1735.453
Reactive Silica as SiO2 0.5 mg/L  
Nitrate + Nitrite as NNO3-/
0.05 mg/L 62.005
Ammonia as NNH30.05 mg/L 17.030
o-Phosphate as PPO43-0.01 mg/L 94.971
Dissolved Organic Carbon as CDOC0.5 mg/l  
Conductivity (25oC 1 µmho/cm  
Colour 5 TCU  
Turbidity 0.1 NTU  
Bicarbonate as CaCO3 1 mg/L  
Carbonate as CaCO3 1 mg/L  
Saturation pH
(4oC, 20oC)
Langelier Index
(4oC, 20oC)
Cation Sum 0.1 meq/L  
Anion Sum 0.1 meq/L  
Ion Balance % -  
Total Dissolved Solids (calc'd) 1 mg/L  

RCAp-MS Parameters includes the RCAp parameters plus:

For intro, see RCAp parameters!

and ionic valence
(Estimated Quantification Limits)
Atomic NumberAtomic Weight/
Molecular Weight
This includes the RCAp parameters plus:
Nitrate and Nitrite breakdown -  
AluminumAl3+0.01 mg/L1326.98154
AntimonySb0.002 mg/L51121.75
ArsenicAs0.002 mg/L3374.9216
BariumBa0.005 mg/L56137.33
BerylliumBe0.005 mg/L49.01218
BismuthBi0.002 mg/L83208.9804
BoronB0.005 mg/L510.81
CadmiumCd0.0003 mg/L48112.41
ChromiumCr0.002 mg/L2451.996
CobaltCo0.001 mg/L2758.9332
LeadPb0.0005 mg/L82207.2
MolybdenumMo0.002 mg/L4295.94
NickelNi0.002 mg/L2858.70
PhosphorusP0.1 mg/L1530.97
SeleniumSe0.002 mg/L3478.96
SilverAg0.0003 mg/L47107.868
StrontiumSr0.005 mg/L3887.62
ThalliumTl0.0001 mg/L81204.37
TinSn0.002 mg/L50118.69
TitaniumTi0.002 mg/L2247.90
UraniumU0.0001 mg/L92238.029
VanadiumV0.002 mg/L2350.9414

Metals in Soils and Sediments

Metal contamination of soils and sediments can result from a variety of activities including mining, smelting and fertilizer operations, combustion of fossil fuels (automobiles, thermal power plants), battery production and foundries. The main route to the environment is via atmospheric emissions and subsequent fallout, effluent discharges and run-off. Certain metals such as cadmium and lead can bioaccumulate and act as a cumulative poison.

The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) guidelines provide remediation criteria for toxic metals. For instance, the following concentrations have been established for commercial or industrial sites: arsenic - 50 mg/kg; cadmium - 20 mg/kg; lead - 1000 mg/kg (PSC- Technical Data Sheet, February 1999).


Metals in soils and sediments are routinely determined as "available metals" based upon the digestion technique provided in EPA Method 3050A. Alternative digestion procedures, such as the "total metals" digest are available upon request. Samples are digested with concentrated nitric acid and hydrogen peroxide. The digestate is then diluted to volume and centrifuged in order to segregate any remaining solids. The supernatant is further diluted and analysed using an inductively coupled plasma - mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) and on inductively coupled plasma - optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES). Results (in mg/kg) are provided for a 22 element suite based upon the original dry weight of the sample.

Precision and accuracy are ensured through the evaluation of Certified Reference Materials, method blanks, method duplicates method spikes. Complete quality assurance data will be provided with sample results upon request.


A minimum of 100 grams of a representative soil or sediment sample should be collected in a clean glass soil jar. Clean sample containers can be supplied upon request.

The Table below illustrates results obtained when a reference sample is analysed using a "total metals" digest and an "available metals" digest.

Analysis of MESS-23 (mg/kg)
Analyte"Total""Available"Reporting Limit*
Comparable results are observed for many of the trace metals that have particular environmental significance (e.g. arsenic, cadmium, lead). Other elements such as molybdenum and chromium show greater variation. When planning long range monitoring studies, specify the digest that is most suitable for your specific application.
  1. Eaton, P.B., et. al.. Environmental Quality in the Atlantic Region, Environment Canada, Environmental Protection Service, Atlantic Region. 1985.
  2. Review and Recommendations for Canadian Interim Environmental Quality Criteria for Contaminated Sites. Environment Canada Scientific Series No. 197, Inland Waters Directorate, Water Quality Branch, Ottawa, Ont. 1991.
  3. Marine sediment available from NRC Institute for National Measurement Standards, Chemical Metrology Group.
  4. CCME cites jot water extractable boron as the parameter of concern. Boron by other techniques may still be useful for comparative studies.
  5. Tin is not currently included in the suite of "available metals" and must be requested separately.

Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons


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