Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Metal contamination in a room

  1. Nov 8, 2018 #1
    Hi everyone, I want to figure out exactly how clean a particular lab room is (in terms of trace metal contamination). I’ve read papers where people have simply left a vial of high conc. nitric acid on a hot plate to concentrate it, then measure contamination from lab air using an ICPMS. I don’t really understand how that would work though, can anyone explain it, or does anyone have any other ideas?

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 8, 2018 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    No idea what you are trying to do. Can you elaborate on what you mean by "trace metal contamination of a room"? Air? Surfaces?
  4. Nov 8, 2018 #3
  5. Nov 10, 2018 #4
    Um, I've the odd knack of being able to smell Mercury and such at surprisingly low concentrations.
    ( Also 'blown' fuses when such were open-wire rather than 'cartridge'... ;-)

    Back when we had mercury thermometers, I could literally 'follow my nose' to which bench-end sink in our labs had been contaminated by a breakage. The perp had usually recovered all globules from around the plug-hole, but there would be just enough in the trap to require plastic bucket, zinc powder, spillage kit etc etc...

    IIRC, our in-house 'Environment Monitor' used special air-filters and a calibrated air-pump to sample rooms.

    There will be strict protocols to follow, to ensure result is robust. I'd suggest you begin with EPA or your equivalent.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?