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Measuring Selenium Speciation in Sediments, Waters and Tissues

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Selenium is generally considered an essential element for some living organisms, while at elevated concentrations; inorganic forms of Selenium can be toxic. It is therefore critical for risk assessors, environmental engineers and toxicologists to be able to differentiate between total Selenium measurements in sediments, waters and tissues versus the more toxic inorganic forms of Selenium including Selenite [Se(IV)] and Selenate [Se(VI)]. Today, measuring selenium species in wastewater for the coal fired power industry has been critical for wastewater engineers to develop effective treatment methods.

Eurofins Frontier Global Sciences has been routinely measuring Selenium speciation in sediments, waters and tissues since 1997 when it was hired as the reference laboratory for the EPA 1600 series trace metals and metals speciation methods validation. At that time, Selenium speciation was not included in the EPA 1600 series methods and therefore did not become an EPA promulgated method. However, Eurofins Frontier Global Sciences is both ISO-17025 and NELAP certified for this method in some states and has been supporting this method for nearly 20 years.

Eurofins Frontier Global Sciences offers a number of ways of measuring Selenium species in a variety of sample matrices however principally uses anion-exchange liquid chromatography for Selenium species separation followed by detection via inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (HPLC-ICP-MS). There are additional approaches that Eurofins Frontier Global Sciences can offer including Hydride Generation Atomic Fluorescence Spectrometry that can also aid the trace level detection of these species.

Example MDL/MRL: Selenium Speciation in Waters by HPLC-ICP-MS

Method Analyte *MDL *MRL Units
EFGS-129 Selenite 0.285 0.500 µg/L
EFGS-129 Selenate 0.157 0.500 µg/L
EFGS-129 Selenocyanate 0.222 0.500 µg/L
EFGS-129 Selenomethionine 0.123 0.500 µg/L
EFGS-129 Selenomethylcysteine 0.444 0.500 µg/L
Additional Selenium Compounds are potentially available
*Estimated MDL/MRL for Waters


Eurofins Frontier Global Sciences back in the early 1990s was instrumental in the development of low-level metals analysis methods that offered detection limits in some cases, orders of magnitude below those offered at that time. EPA recognized the advantages of these techniques and Eurofins Frontier Global Sciences was hired in 1996-1997 as the EPA Metals Reference Laboratory to perform the final validation of what are now the EPA 1600 Trace Metals and Metals Speciation Methods. The EPA 1600 series metals analysis methods include low-level mercury (EPA 1631E), a suite of low-level trace metals (CWA Low-Level EPA 200.8/EPA 1638) as well as a number of additional methods for measuring methyl mercury (EPA 1630), arsenic speciation (EPA 1632) and a suite of metals in seawater/brackish waters (EPA 1640).

Eurofins Frontier Global Sciences offers the following metals and metals speciation methods:

Eurofins Frontier Global Sciences Trace Metals and Metals Speciation

EPA 1630   Methyl Mercury
EPA 1631   Total Mercury
EPA 1631Mod   Elemental Mercury
EPA 1631Mod   Inorganic Mercury
EPA 1632   Arsenic Speciation
EPA 1638   Trace Metals (Full Suite*)
EPA 200.8   CWA Trace Metals (Full Suite*)
EPA 1640   Trace Metals in Saline Waters
SM3500-CR   Hexavalent Chromium in Waters
EPA 7196   Hexavalent Chromium in Waters
Other speciation via LC-ICPMS or LC-AFS including Selenium, Arsenic, Vanadium, Molybdenum, Cobalt
*Antimony, Arsenic, Barium, Beryllium, Boron, Cadmium, Calcium, Chromium, Cobalt, Copper, Iron, Lead, Magnesium, Manganese, Mercury, Molybdenum, Nickel, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Silver, Sodium, Strontium, Thallium, Tin, Titanium, Vanadium, Zinc


To learn more about these methods, please contact
RobertBrunette@EurofinsUS.com.