A diagnostic measurement system based on atomic emission spectroscopy has been developed for the purpose of on-line monitoring of hazardous elements in industrial combustion gases. The aim was to construct a setup with a high durability for rough and variable experimental conditions, e.g. a strongly fluctuating gas composition, a high gas temperature and the presence of fly ash and corrosive effluents. Since the setup is primarily intended for the analysis of combustion gases with extremely high concentrations of pollutants, not much effort has been made to achieve low detection limits. It was found that an inductively coupled argon plasma was too sensitive to molecular gas introduction. Therefore, a microwave induced plasma torch, compromising both the demands of a high durability and an effective evaporation and excitation of the analyte was used as excitation source. The analysis system has been installed at an industrial hazardous waste incinerator and successfully tested on combustion gases present above the incineration process. Abundant elements as zinc, lead and sodium could be easily monitored.