The edge of reason: reporting and inference near the detection limit
Although the general concept of a detection limit as a lower practical operating limit for an analytical method is widely understood, the precise interpretation of results near the IUPAC limit of detection is rarely as well understood or implemented. It is important to distinguish between statements about the analytical result, which is known, and inferences about the true value, which are not known. It is also crucial to understand that there are at least two quite different limits involved and that the limit most commonly referred to as the ‘limit of detection’ is, surprisingly, not intended as the criterion for detection of an analyte. This Technical Brief describes the principal internationally recognised approach to decision and detection limits.