Estuaries are where much of our marine pollution is to be found, being the gateway between the land and the ocean. They are also where much of our seafood comes. So, knowledge of elemental contamination in estuaries is vital to protect us from the ingestion of polluted seafood.
Tony Davies continues his quest to find out what you all need to work more efficiently. You will remember that in the last issue, Tony introduced his survey to discover what developments were needed in spectroscopy by readers. Some of the initial responses are explored, and Tony finds that he has opened a “can of worms”.
This article is is a fascinating look into the use of laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry in forensic examination of glass fragments. These are often associated with crime scenes and easily “attach” to any people near them. Thus, they can be used to link criminals to their crime and to provide information on where a glass fragment might have originated.
Another surface problem is tackled by Richard Pilkington, Stuart Astin and John Cowpe: “Application of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy for surface hardness measurements”. Measuring the hardness of materials is not entirely straightforward, and the authors show that laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy offers the potential for in situ hardness measurements, without prior sample preparation.
Stanislav Strekopytov tells us about “The use of inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry to quantify chemical hazards in natural history collections: arsenic and mercury in taxidermy bird specimens”. It is quite shocking to learn about the use of poisons to preserve taxidermy specimens in the past. Nowadays it is essential that the dangers from such specimens are known before they can be handled by museum staff and particularly if they might be touched by visitors. ICP-MS analysis provides fully quantitative information on bulk contents of toxic elements in taxidermy specimens and so is well suited to this task.
Research is under way as to the possibility of using high-precision isotopic analysis of metals in a biomedical context. The goal is to develop methods for medical diagnosis on the basis of isotopic analysis of mineral elements in biofluids, for diseases that can otherwise only be established at a later stage or via a more invasive method (e.g., a biopsy) and/or for prognosis purposes. Whilst this work is in a very early stage, it is known that various diseases have an influence on the uptake, metabolism and/or excretion of essential mineral elements and thus, can cause a difference in their isotopic composition in biofluids.
The authors tell us about “Two dimensional elemental mapping by laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy”. LIBS seems to be finding increasing applications and to be receiving interest by the instrument manufacturers at present. The article provides an introduction to the technique and goes on to show how it can be used for elemental mapping in materials analysis.
Sotiris Stasinos and Ioannis Zabetakis have used ICP-MS to investigate the cross-contamination of food crops by heavy metals in ground or irrigation water. They show that this can occur easily in certain crops, which has serious health consequences for those consuming the food crop. As a consequence of their work, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has been informed about the accumulation of Cr and Ni in food tubers and is taking action.
Bread is the major contributor to Na intake in the human diet. For this reason, it is expected that lowering the amount of salt in bread may lead to a substantial reduction in the sodium intake. However, lowering the amount of salt in bread has an impact on the flavour. Using LIBS, a fast and easy-to-use method could be set up to determine Na distribution in baked bread as an innovative tool to help the development of methods to reduce total sodium content in bread.
TiO2 is widely used as a sunscreen UV filter and as a colouring agent in all types of cosmetic products. TiO2 has recently captured the attention of the scientific community since its safety assessment has been placed again under consideration. Inductively-coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES), square wave voltammetry (SWV) and sedimentation field-flow fractionation (SdFFF) are described in this article to characterise and quantify the TiO2 particles inside six commercial foundation creams.
The authors describe the use of a range of complementary methods to explore cellular, physiological and behavioural mechanisms underlying Al accumulation and toxicity, and its eventual fate, using the pond snail as a model organism.
This article discusses how modern inductively-coupled plasma (ICP) technology surpasses the performance of traditionally used atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS) techniques to ensure optimal fuel quality.
Imaging of organic and inorganic constituents of tablets represents a considerable challenge and no single spectroscopic approach can provide definitive characterisation of all components and/or satisfy key measurement criteria such as sensitivity, specificity, resolution and speed of analysis. Laser ablation in combination with ICP emission spectrometry represents a powerful new tool for imaging elemental distribution in pharmaceutical tablets.
The problem of detecting, recognising and identifying explosives at significant standoff distances has proved one of the most difficult—and most important—challenges during recent years, being today, one of the most demanding applications of spectroscopic techniques. The limited number of sophisticated available techniques potentially capable of standoff detection of minimal amounts of explosives is based on laser spectroscopy. Of the recently developed techniques, Raman spectroscopy and laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) are considered significant for their potential for homeland defence applications.
This article highlights the versatility of the developed methodology for the measurement of arsenic species in a range of materials from Devon Great Consols (DGC), one of many former mining sites in the south- west of England.
The scientific study of fluid inclusions goes back to the middle of the 19th century. Geochemists have sought for years to find techniques that would allow them to analyse the contents of these small liquid bubbles, but the challenge is formidable. After the progressive development of techniques that yielded results for optimal samples, Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry has at last provided a means of analysing individual fluid inclusions in typical, rather than exceptional, samples.
Lead exposure is an international issue. Pb may enter biological systems (as Pb2+) via food (e.g. food contaminated from cans containing Pb solders in the joints), water (e.g. use of lead pipes), air and soil (the combustions of leaded fuels have contributed to the accumulation of atmospheric and soil Pb). In the USA, the major source of ingestion in young children seems to be the dust and chips originating from old lead paint (used from 1884 to 1978).1 Foetuses and very young children (up to 36 months of age) are more sensitive than adults to relatively high blood lead levels because their brains and nervous systems are still developing and their blood-brain barrier is still incomplete. Childhood lead exposure has been correlated with school absenteeism, low class ranks, poorer vocabulary, longer reaction times and diminished hand-eye coordination, among other neurobehavioural disorders.
Inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) was introduced commercially in 1983 as a very sensitive analytical technique to be deployed for (ultra)trace element analysis. Compared to the previously existing techniques of atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS) and ICP-optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES), the main advantages offered by ICP-MS over these techniques were its pronounced multi-element capabilities and substantially higher detection power, respectively.
Analysis of used lubrication oil for metals is commonplace in many industries. The metals analysed fall into three categories: wear metals, contaminants and additive elements. The concentration of these metals and elements can then be interpreted to schedule maintenance of engines and machinery such as construction machinery and aeroplanes. The cost of unscheduled maintenance can be high, not only in materials and parts, but also in lost profits due to downtime. Once the oil has been sampled, Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES) analysis is a very useful tool for this application.
(Image courtesy Shell Motorsport)