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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Nov 6;16(22). pii: E4317. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16224317.

Quick Analysis of Organic Amendments via Portable X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry.

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Instituto de Recursos Naturales y Agrobiología de Sevilla (IRNAS-CSIC), Avda. Reina Mercedes 10, 41012 Sevilla, Spain.
Department of Analytical Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry, Universidad de Sevilla, c/Prof. García González, s/n, 41012 Sevilla, Spain.


The determination of heavy metals in soils and organic amendments, such as compost, manure, biofertilizer, and sludge, generally involves the digestion of samples with aqua regia, and the determination of those in the solution using various techniques. Portable X-ray fluorescence (PXRF) has many advantages in relation to traditional analytical techniques. However, PXRF determines the total elemental content and, until now, its use for the analysis of organic amendments has been limited. The objective of this work is the calibration of a PXRF instrument to determine the aqua regia-soluble elemental contents directly in solid samples of organic amendments. Our proposal will avoid the digestion step and the use of other laboratory techniques. Using a training set of samples, calibration functions were obtained that allow the determination of the aqua regia-soluble contents from the PXRF readings of total contents. The calibration functions (obtained by multiple linear regression) allowed the quantitative determination of the aqua regia-soluble contents of Fe, K, P, S, Zn, Cu, Pb, Sr, Cr, and Mn, as well as the organic matter content and a semi-quantitative assessment of Al, Ca, V, Ba, Ni, and As contents. The readings of Si, Fe, Al, Ca, K, or S were used as correction factors, indicating that the calibrations functions found are truly based on the chemical composition of the sample matrix. This study will allow a fast, cheap, and reliable field analysis of organic amendments and of other biomass-based materials.


aqua regia-soluble content; compost; heavy metal; loss on ignition; multiple linear regression; organic matter determination; sewage sludge; urban garden

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