A new method for simultaneous measurement of 71 inorganic elements in liquids – including water, beverages and biological fluids –…
A new method for simultaneous measurement of 71 inorganic elements in liquids – including water, beverages and biological fluids – makes element testing much faster, more effective and more comprehensive than previously possible.
researchers studied fluid samples from a variety of sources around the world, including tap water from a suburb of New York, snow from Italy and Croatia, rain from Brazil and Pakistan, seawater from Switzerland and Croatia and sea water from Japan and Brazil. Testing each sample results in a distinct element pattern, creating a “fingerprint” that can help distinguish between subjects or trace a fluid back to its environment.
The method – developed by a researcher at the NYO College of Dentistry’s Isotope Laboratory, and described in the journal RSC Advances published by the Royal Society of Chemistry ̵
1; can be used to explore and understand the distribution of inorganic elements in addition to the few as usual measured. It has consequences for areas such as nutrition, ecology and climate science and environmental health.
An analytical technique called inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is used to measure elements. Historically, the ICP-MS instruments have measured successive sequences or one by one, but a new type of ICP-MS instrument at the NYU College of Dentistry and about two dozen other places around the world has the potential to measure the full range of inorganic elements all at once.
“Because of this new method, our mass spectrometer can simultaneously measure all inorganic elements from lithium to uranium. We can measure the elements in much less time, at much less cost, with much less material,” said Timothy Bromage, Professor of Biomaterials and basic science and craniofacial biology at the NYU College of Dentistry and the leading writer of the study.
This technological development can help fill gaps in our understanding of elemental and concentration in substances such as water. For example, the United States Environmental Protection Agency monitors maximum concentration limits for 19 parts of drinking water that are considered to be health hazards, but many elements known to have health consequences – such as lithium or tin – are not monitored or regulated. 19659003] “Basic mapping of concentration levels in bottles and tap water can help increase our understanding of” normal “concentration levels for most elements in water, “says Bromage.
Bromage and his colleagues designed a method of using the simultaneous ICP -MS to detect 71 parts of the inorganic spectrum that includes a specific set of calibration and internal standards. The method for which they have patents detects routine elements in seconds to several minutes and in samples as small as 1 to 4 milliliters.
Bromage and his research team tested the method of water, beverages and biological samples. Snow contained most elements of some water sample: 50 in snow collected in Italy and 42 in a sample from Croatia. “Such snow evaluations can represent a new and comprehensive way of mapping atmospheric concentrations of elements and for monitoring element patterns in global airflows,” Bromage said.
When testing tap water, the researchers measured 37 elements when the tap was first turned on but only 34 parts after the water ran for five minutes, indicating that elements such as iron and zinc can leak out of household pipes in the water.
The researchers were also measured in water, beer, wine and milk, as well as samples of saliva, urine and blood. Milk differed from the other beverages tested by their high concentrations of titanium, zinc, palladium and gold.
In each sample, Bromage and his team found a distinct “fingerprint” or elemental pattern, indicating that samples can be identified and differentiated by these patterns. The elemental content of water, for example, typically reflects its natural environment, so understanding the elementary composition can tell if water originates from a source of volcanic rock against limestone, an alkaline stone. In bottled water, scientists have observed variations that are likely to be traced to a bottle at the source and one that is chlorinated for transportation from the source to the bottling plant.
Future studies will measure and report on larger water samples, wine, milk and other liquids; A survey of more than 1,000 wines from 34 countries is ongoing. In addition, when elementary patterns for specific environments have been established, the method can be used to answer questions in fields that relate the present to the past, such as the palaeo environment and climate change.
“Water is an arbitration of how a system works. If you try the water from a pond or river and measure the elements, you measure the things that are part of all life – water feeds the plants, the animals eat the plants, we eat the plants and animals can use this knowledge to study human fossils and possibly retrodict what the nature of the area’s water was hundreds of thousands or millions of years ago, “Bromage said.