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Performance evaluation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons analysis in sediment from proficiency testing with metrological reference values

Hon, Phoebe Y. T., Wan, Man-ying, Sin, Della W. M., Wong, Yiu-chung
Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry 2013 v.405 no.23 pp. 7241-7250
gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, isotope dilution technique, liquid chromatography, normal values, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, sediments, traceability, uncertainty
This paper describes a metrological approach to evaluate the measurement capability of laboratories participating in two proficiency testing (PT) programmes involving the analysis of five polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in sediment samples. Reference values of PAHs in the programmes for performance assessment were obtained from an accurate isotope dilution gas chromatography mass spectrometry (ID-GCMS) method which was thoroughly validated and verified. Isotope dilution mass spectrometry (IDMS) technique usually has a well-defined measurement uncertainty budget and a traceability link to an International System of Units. Provision of the metrological reference values in PT enables the establishment of a technical platform to assess the actual competence of the participating laboratories in sediment PAHs analysis. Results of the PT programmes showed that about 80 % of the laboratories employed gas chromatography in their analyses and the remaining used liquid chromatography. Irrespective of the techniques being used, however, the majority of the participating laboratories were observed to underestimate values in which the mean values of the five reported PAHs were less than those of the ID-GCMS-derived reference values by 13–20 %. Only 41–44 % of the participating laboratories were able to achieve satisfactory z-scores. The present study revealed that the reinforcement of the capability for accurate measurement of PAHs in sediment samples in laboratories worldwide should be addressed.