Fuel for Thought
Hand-held XRF Instrumental in Muddy River Restoration Project
Jul 24 2008
in river sediment. Muddy River is part of Boston`s `Emerald Necklace`, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in the late 1800s as a 1,100 acre chain of parks linked by parkways and waterways.
In the century since the Muddy River was established as a naturalist urban park, it has deteriorated with inflow of toxic heavy metals,
petroleum and other pollutants. Currently, a major restoration is planned that would improve flood control and water quality, enhance its aquatic and riparian habitats, restore the landscape and historic resources and implement improved management practices.
Michael Berger, Assistant Professor of chemistry at Simmons College and a co-author of "Analysis of Sulfur in Sediments Using Handheld
XRF Instrumentation", with Ling Zou, also of Simmons College, and Robert Schleicher and Marty Mastovich, Thermo Fisher Scientific, studied the sulphur content of contaminated sediments in the
Muddy River. According to Berger "Previously, sulphur has been considered too light an element to be detected at levels of interest by handheld x-ray fluorescence. The innovative Thermo Scientific
helium purge Niton XRF analyser has changed that. The new helium purge capabilities push the detection limit of sulphur down to 0.03 percent. We can now quantify sulphur in the parts per million range, along with heavy RCRA metals, making site surveys faster, easier and more efficient...with one handheld analyser" Berger continued.
The investigation to measure the levels of sulphur was initiated by Simmons College to evaluate potential volatile sulphur emissions during the sediment dredging operations.
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