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Canadian environmental quality guidelines

Spectrophotometry (AAS) and Graphite Furnace Atomic Absorption (GFAA), respectively (US EPA 2007c; 2007d). These methods can be used for soil, water and sediment samples, although testing of soil samples also involves an initial acid digestion, generally based on US EPA method 3050B (US EPA 1996), 1 ICP-AES: inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy; ICP-MS: inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry 5 which is the method used by the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) for the digestion of samples for zinc determination in soil and sediment. Detection limits of below parts per billion levels can be achieved using ICP-MS (Feng 2008); however, practical detection limits and precisions (by relative standard deviation) for environmental samples commonly range from 0.1 to 10 mg/kg at 14–42 per cent for soil and 0.001 to 0.5 mg/L at 6.8–17 per cent for water samples (US EPA 2014). Other instrumental methods previously published by the US EPA and in the Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater are also currently in use. In general, soil concentrations derived from aqua regia extraction are more relevant from a human health perspective. The estimated instrumental detection limit (DL) of US EPA method 6010C is 15 μg/L (1 g of soil digested in 100 mL water). US EPA analytical method 6020, Inductively Coupled Plasma with Mass Spectrometry, is a more sensitive technique, with an estimated instrumental detection limit (DL) of <0.02 µg/L (US EPA 2014). This method is applicable to groundwater, aqueous samples, industrial wastes, soils, sludges, sediments and other solid wastes. The quality of the most recent data (2003 to 2009) from the National Air Pollution Surveillance (NAPS) database has improved with better method detection limits achieved with the use of ICPMS ana