The SMART (small mass, affordable, rapid, transfer-less) digestion method for heavy metal determinations

Amanda D. French, Hannah M. Ashbaugh, Gary Steinmetz, Melanie Barnes, Warren Conway, David Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The S.M.A.R.T. (small mass, affordable, rapid, transfer-less) digestion method was developed to determine heavy metal concentrations in small sample masses. The S.M.A.R.T. digestion method is a hot water bath digestion where sample digestion and dilution are performed in the original sample tube. This method is faster than the typical methods used and reduces potential sources of error. Masses as small as 0.01 g have been digested and analysed using this method. The preparation and digestion time is reduced from 10 h to less than 4 h. Acid volumes are reduced from millilitres to microlitres and the only disposable supplies needed are sample tubes and pipette tips. Method accuracy was determined by digesting seven replicates of two standard reference materials using the S.M.A.R.T. method and analysing samples by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. The S.M.A.R.T. digestion method was found to provide excellent recoveries for Al (76 ± 2.7%), Mn (99 ± 11%), Co (92 ± 17%), Ni (93 ± 28%), Cu (109 ± 33%), Zn (97 ± 7.1%), As (108 ± 20%), Sr (90 ± 12%), Mo (84 ± 23%), Ag (91 ± 1.8%), Cd (95 ± 6.2%), Sn (139 ± 52%) and Pb (95 ± 22%). This study has successfully developed an efficient and reproducible digestion method for heavy metal determination in limited biomass samples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-507
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 3 2017


  • Small mass
  • acid digestion
  • environmental
  • heavy metals


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