Evaluation of performance of time-saving extraction devices in the BCR three-step sequential extraction procedure
Two alternative extraction methods—a routine ultrasonic bath and a microwave oven—were developed and optimized for their eventual exploitation in the three-stage sequential extraction procedure proposed by the European Standards, Measurements and Testing (S, M & T) Programme, formerly Bureau Communitaire de Reference (BCR), for the operationally defined speciation of Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni and Zn. The conventional BCR three-stage sequential extraction procedure was modified at each stage, applying ultrasonic or microwave devices in order to shorten the required 16 h of shaking in all three steps. The experimental tests and the optimization of the operating parameters were carried out on a highly homogenized estuarine sediment reference material (RM S7) prepared by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of ISPRA. Extractable metal contents were measured by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and the results obtained in each fraction by all three methods were statistically compared for all the studied elements. The conventional and newly developed alternative extraction methods were finally compared by the analysis of BCR 601, which is certified for the three-step BCR sequential extraction procedure. According to the statistical evaluation of the results, the proposed accelerated sequential extraction methods are valid alternatives to conventional shaking, with much shorter extraction times.