Using XRF to Fight Soil Contamination

A number of recent news stories in China and around the world have drawn widespread attention to the country’s advancements in environmental protection. Here, Hitachi’s XRF product expert Christelle Petiot explores the use of XRF technology and its applications in soil testing. Chinese companies must perform their own environmental audits, so being able to accurately test soil for contaminants makes these devices exceedingly useful.

The War on Pollution

China is actively seeking to reduce pollution and working hard to protect the environment from its negative effects. For example, in July of last year, President Xi Jinping announced that managing pollution would be one of the country’s top three priorities, along with reducing poverty and managing financial risk. This ‘war on pollution’ was first announced by Premier Li Keqiang at the 2014 National People’s Congress.

From the country’s Environment Ministry, 5,600 inspectors have already been deployed, with thousands of companies being made to pay fines of more than 1 billion yuan. In line with the announcement of the country’s top three priorities, the news service Xinhuanet reported that a total of 49.7 billion yuan was ringfenced for environmental protection last year, with 8.5 billion of this reserved for water pollution control and 6.5 billion allocated to managing soil pollution.

Soil Contamination

Stricter environmental regulation and control is of increasing concern not only for companies, but also for local officials whose role it is to ensure that industries reduce pollution and their impact on the environment by properly cleaning up after themselves.

Soil contamination is an especially complex part of this issue, as contamination within soil can often be difficult to identify. Contaminated soil silently pollutes the ground water supply and also crops, meaning that detection of contamination within soil is of utmost importance.

XRF Technology

Hitachi High-Tech’s X-MET8000 Expert Geo is an invaluable tool for both environmental officials and companies. This sturdy handheld device uses X-ray fluorescence (XRF) technology to analyze the elemental composition of soil samples. The device is extremely easy to use, and the user simply has to point the nose of the unit at the soil sample and pull the activation trigger.

Environmental Audits

China’s new environmental protection legislation requires companies to audit themselves and keep track of this information. When environmental officials do audit a facility or plant, they will explore a range of factors and indicators such as the company’s waste disposal methods, permits, compliance with policies around land use and perhaps most importantly, evidence of soil or ground water contamination.

Using the X-MET8000 Expert Geo as part of a rigorous self-auditing process can ensure that there are no surprises during an inspection. This handheld device makes basic screening of soil samples simple and cost effective and, should contamination be found; steps can be taken to address this immediately without risking potential action from environmental officers.

Furthermore, it is possible to store results in the internal memory of the X-MET8000 itself, and the unit’s integrated GPS means that geolocation data can be combined with soil analysis results for site mapping. Alongside the device’s GPS capabilities, it can work alongside Trimble® receivers to provide more accurate location data.

As the X-MET8000 removes the need to send soil samples to a separate lab to be analyzed, the internal auditing process becomes more streamlined and cost effective for the company, as well as easier and quicker for any environmental officials conducting inspections.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science.

For more information on this source, please visit Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science.

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