Reducing risk and increasing confidence of decision making at a lower cost

in-situ pXRF assessment of metal-contaminated sites

Marek Rouillon*, Mark P. Taylor, Chenyin Dong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


This study evaluates the in-situ use of field portable X-ray Fluorescence (pXRF) for metal-contaminated site assessments, and assesses the advantages of increased sampling to reduce risk, and increase confidence of decision making at a lower cost. Five metal-contaminated sites were assessed using both in-situ pXRF and ex-situ inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) analyses at various sampling resolutions. Twenty second in-situ pXRF measurements of Mn, Zn and Pb were corrected using a subset of parallel ICP-MS measurements taken at each site. Field and analytical duplicates revealed sampling as the major contributor (>95% variation) to measurement uncertainties. This study shows that increased sampling led to several benefits including more representative site characterisation, higher soil-metal mapping resolution, reduced uncertainty around the site mean, and reduced sampling uncertainty. Real time pXRF data enabled efficient, on-site decision making for further judgemental sampling, without the need to return to the site. Additionally, in-situ pXRF was more cost effective than the current approach of ex-situ sampling and ICP-MS analysis, even with higher sampling at each site. Lastly, a probabilistic site assessment approach was applied to demonstrate the advantages of integrating estimated measurement uncertainties into site reporting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)780-789
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • Field portable XRF spectrometry
  • In-situ pXRF
  • Measurement uncertainty
  • Metal-contamination
  • Site assessment

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