Portable X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) is a non-destructive way of measuring the composition of materials.

Using the Olympus VANTA XRF, EC Otago can quickly and easily measure the soil around a house or building to assess whether heavy metal contamination might be present. This preliminary assessment can determine whether laboratory testing is necessary, and on larger projects the combination of XRF and laboratory testing can result in significant cost savings relative to laboratory testing alone.

The XRF can also be used to determine whether paint contains lead or other heavy metal contamination without any damage to the surface. The use of lead, chromium, cadmium and even arsenic was very common in the past and were progressively banned. Removal of any paint from before the 1980s (and in some situations newer paints) can be a risk if not properly managed, and cause contamination of a household or the surrounding land. A quick survey with the XRF can determine what safety precautions are required before any work begins.