Preparation of a sewage sludge laboratory quality control material for butyltin compounds and their determination by isotope-dilution mass spectrometry

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2012 May;403(3):857-65. doi: 10.1007/s00216-012-5897-7. Epub 2012 Mar 14.


The characterisation of a laboratory quality control material (QCM) for dibutyltin (DBT) and tributyltin (TBT) in sewage sludge is described. The reference values were determined by the use of two different types of isotope-dilution mass spectrometry: gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and gas chromatography-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. To avoid possible analytical errors such as non-quantitative extraction and species degradation during sample preparation, different extraction methods were tested (microwave- and ultrasound-assisted extraction and mechanical stirring). The reference values were based on the unweighted means of results from the homogenisation and characterisation studies. The reference values obtained were 1,553 ± 87 and 534 ± 38 ng Sn g(-1) for DBT and TBT, respectively. In the uncertainty budget estimation, the sample inhomogeneity and between-method imprecision were taken into account. The concentrations of DBT and TBT in QCM are similar to those in the harbour sediment certified reference material PACS-2. Likewise, the levels of DBT and TBT are in the range of these compounds normally present in sewage sludge worldwide. In the future, the QCM will be used for an intercomparison study on DBT and TBT in sewage sludge, and as a day-to-day QCM during studies concerning the application of sewage sludge as an additive to artificial soil or as a raw material in civil engineering construction.