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Department of Geography Soil Science and Biogeochemistry

Environmental matrices


A standard reference material that exemplifies atmospheric particulate matter also is currently available from NIST. Urban Dust Standard Reference Material (SRM) 1649a is an atmospheric particulate material collected in the Washington DC urban area from 1976-1977, using a baghouse specially designed for this purpose. The particulate material was collected over a period of more than 12 months, and therefore represents a time-integrated sample. While the sample is not intended to be representative of the area in which it was collected, it should generally typify atmospheric particulate matter obtained from an urban area. This material is intended for use in evaluating analytical methods for the determination of selected polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), polychlorinated biphenyl congeners, chlorinated pesticides, and total carbon in atmospheric particulate material and similar matrices. Analytical results for the black carbon component, determined as elemental carbon, clustered at about 13 g, 49 g and 81 g of elemental carbon per kg of material, giving evidence of method dependence. This SRM also has information and/or reference values for natural C-14 in several chemical fractions, including elemental carbon and certain PAH.


Ordering information

NIST-Standard SRM 1649a has been superseded by SRM 1649b - Urban Dust, which is available from  Please note that SRM 1649b is prepared from the same bulk material as SRM 1649 and SRM 1649a, but it has been sieved to a smaller particle size resulting in some differences in the concentrations of the target analytes. More details you may find in the SRM 1649b certificate (PDF).

Cost: USD 593 per 2g (certified) (price as on 15 April 2011).

Marine sediment

A standard reference material from marine sediments is currently available from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Organics in marine sediment standard reference material (SRM) 1941b is a marine material collected from a coastal marine environment. This material is intended for use in evaluating analytical methods for the determination of selected polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyl congeners, chlorinated pesticides and sulphur in marine particulate material and similar matrices.


Ordering information

The certificate and ordering information are available at
Cost: USD 644 per 50 g (certified) (price as on 15 April 2011)


1. Vertisol
The distribution of the "clay soil (Vertisol)" reference material has been discontinued in 2012.

2. Chernozem
The Haplic Chernozem (19% clay, 53% fine sand) was sampled in the region of Hildesheim-Braunschweig at Harsum (northern Germany) at 20-60 cm depth, to minimise anthropogenic influence from ploughing and bomb 14C. German Chernozems developed some 10,000 years ago from loess and are much younger soils than those developed in Australia. Chernozems contain large amounts of charred organic carbon (almost 50 % of the organic carbon present), according to the UV-oxidation NMR method, and this soil was characterized in some detail (soil number 6 in (3)).

The original reference material distributed until 2012 has been replaced by "Chernozem 2013". Both materials are subsamples of the same bulk material sampled in the year 2000.

Ordering information
The reference material is well homogenized, stored under standard lab conditions, and can be shipped on request. Subsamples (20 g each) can be ordered from Michael W. I. Schmidt, Univ. Zurich, Dept. Geography, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland ([at]
Cost 40 EUR for each sample.

1) Schmidt, M.W.I., Skjemstad, J.O., Czimczik, C.I., Glaser, B. Prentice, K.M., Gelinas, Y., Kuhlbusch, T.A.J. 2001.Comparative analysis of black carbon in soils. Global Biogeochemical Cycles15, 163-167.

2) Skjemstad, J.O., Taylor, J.A., Smernik, R. 1999. Estimation of charcoal (char) in soils. Communication in Soil science and Plant analysis 30 (15 & 16), 2283-2298.

3) Schmidt, M.W.I., Skjemstad, J.O., Gehrt, E., Kögel-Knabner, I. 1999. Charred organic carbon in German chernozemic soils. European Journal of Soil Science 50 (2), 351-365.

Dissolved organic matter

More than 1000 g of Suwannee River natural organic matter (NOM) were isolated using reverse osmosis technology, then H+-saturated, freeze dried, and homogenized. This sample contains only 7 % dissolved organic carbon, representing 92.9 % recovery. The NOM sample is available for 30 USD per 100 mg. The elemental composition of dry Suwannee River NOM is: 52.5 % C; 4.2 % H; 42.7 % O; 1.1 % N; 0.70 % S; 7.0 % Ash. A brief description of the sampling and isolation procedure can be found on the web.

Ordering information

Material can be ordered online at
International Humic Substances Society
Dr. Paul R. Bloom
Dept. Soil, Water, Climate
University of Minnesota
1991 Upper Buford Circle, Rm 439
St. Paul MN 55108 USA
E-mail: ihss[at]
Catalog number: 1R101N, Suwannee River NOM (RO isolation)
Cost: USD 30 per 100 mg (price as on 15 April 2011)


Serkiz, S.M., Perdue, E.M. 1990. Isolation of dissolved organic matter from the Suwannee River using reverse osmosis. Water Research, 24(7), 911-916.