Publication Date

Spring 2013

Document Type

Project Summary

Degree Name

Master of Science


Analytical Chemistry

First Advisor

Karen D'Arcy, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Walter Henne, Jr., Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Aheda Saber, Ph.D.


Mining is one of the most important industries and a main cause of global pollution due to release of heavy metals into air, water, and soil. Some of these elements are persistent in the environment for years and bioaccumulation in living organisms causing toxic effects. Such elements are known as PBTs (persistent, bioaccumulate and toxic). The nature of toxicity depends on the properties, size of population exposed to it and period of exposure. For this reason, we are interested in developing a method to detect heavy metals in soil samples, mine tailings, plant and animal samples collected from surroundings of Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan in collaboration with the Environmental Biology department program. The collected samples are analyzed for heavy metal contamination and compared to National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards and samples collected from non-mining areas. Heavy metal concentration is determined using Atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS). AAS is a spectroanalytical procedure for quantitative determination of metallic elements present in a sample by employing absorption of optical radiation by free atoms in gaseous state. Known concentration of lead standards were prepared to run through AAS Flame to create calibration curve. The calibration curve is used to analyze samples collected from mining areas. Unfortunately, the detection limit using FAAS was not sensitive enough for analysis of water, plant and animal samples. So, we changed the technique to more sensitive Graphite Furnace AAS to improve detection limit. The signal detection limit was found to be 21.285 m-1, minimum detectable concentration is 0.894 ug/L and lower limit of detection was found to be 8.94 ug/L.


Student ID number has been redacted from the title page by OPUS staff.