Many laboratories are in need of a technique to automatically analyze milligram quantities of samples for trace elements. The recent cutbacks in resources for clinical and forensic laboratories have produced problems in the number of microvolume samples that can actually be analyzed per day. The analytical methods used in these laboratories are for single element determinations and are often operator-dependent. These methods are both costly and time-consuming. Furthermore, the government has restrictions in some laboratories for the handling of and exposure to certain types of samples, e.g., radioactive materials. An automated technique for the simultaneous determination of trace elements in microvolume samples would greatly reduce the time and cost of analysis. It would also diminish considerably the risks in the handling of and exposure to some samples.

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