This is the tenth annual review published in JAAS of the applications of atomic spectrometry to the chemical analysis of environmental samples. The format used is similar to that of previous years. Over the past 12 months there has been a further increase in the exploitation of the analytical power of ICP-MS and MS techniques generally. In the analysis of air, this has resulted in some interesting developments in the use of mathematical models to establish the origins of airborne particulates. Characterization of individual participates also seems to be attracting more attention from researchers. In water analysis, development of improved separation and preconcentration techniques, and of speciation procedures, still consume a good deal of time. With the wider use of ICP-MS, understanding of polyatomic ion interference effects is continuing to improve. For soils, plants and geological materials, the year has been one dominated largely by consolidation of existing methodology, rather than one full of exciting new developments.