Heavy metals such as cadmium, chromium and lead are natural components of the earth’s crust and are typically present in our environment at various concentration levels. They enter the human body via food, drink and air. Some of these heavy metals, the so-called trace elements such as chromium, iron, cobalt, copper, manganese, zinc and tin are in low concentrations essential to the human body, as they are important for the metabolism. At higher concentrations however, they are toxic and harmful to humans. Heavy metal poisoning may occur from contamination of drinking water from lead transfer pipes, air contamination from industrial emissions or ingestion via the food chain in the form of contaminated vegetables, meat and fish. Drinking water which is reagrded as the most important „food“ is monitored continuously according to the European drinking water regulation. Determination of heavy metals is done using Atomic Absorption-(AAS), Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission-(ICP-OES) and Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). ISO 17294-2:2016 specifies a method for the determination of 62 elements in drinking water, surface water, ground water, wastewater and eluates using ICP-MS spectrometry.

Analysis of Tap Water and Drinking Water by ICPMS-2030

When a large number of elements needs to be determined, the ICPMS-2030 proves to be particularly advantageous because it can determine all elements simultaneously. Items to be tested include high concentration elements such as sodium and calcium that are present at 10 mg/L or higher, and trace elements such as arsenic and lead that are present at 10 µg/L or lower. Analytical results from tap water and mineral water samples are available here:

Simultaneous Determination of various Elements in Infant Formula Using ICPMS-2030

For quality control of infant formula is in Europe ICPMS spectrometry is widely used for determination of essential elements and heavy metals. Minimum and maximum levels for trace elements (Ca, Cr, Cu, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, Mo, Na, P, Se and Zn) in infant formula are described in the European directives No 2006/141/CE and 2006/125/CE. At the same time, Commission regulation No 1881/2006 is setting maximum levels for contaminants (Al, As, Cs, Hg, Pb, Sb and Sn) in foodstuffs and especially in baby food in order to prevent children from toxic substances.

Analysis of Heavy Metal Contaminants in Cannabis Flower using the Shimadzu ICPMS-2030

The recent evolution of legislation in Europe and other countries on a global scale has opened up the cultivation and sale of cannabis and related products for medical and recreation use. With the availability of cannabis as a commercial product comes the need for analysis and regulation of potency, pesticides, biological contaminants, and heavy metals, among others. The concentration of heavy metals in plants that are intended for consumption is of concern due to the potentially hazardous effects of these metals related to their toxicity. A method has been developed on ICPMS-2030 to the detection of the “Big Four” heavy metals (i.e., As, Cd, Hg, and Pb) in digested cannabis flower samples.

Quantitative Analysis of Chromium and Arsenic Species in Food and Food Packaging using LC-ICPMS

Speciation analysis using LC-ICPMS is required to have a clear identification and quantification of the different species or a better understanding of toxicological impacts on human health, animal health and the environment. In case of arsenic for example the inorganic species arsenite and arsenate have a bigger toxicological relevance than the organic species. For chromium in food packaging the hexavalent species needs to be determined as it is recognized as a human carcinogen and the speciation analysis needs to be performed using the combination of HPLC and ICPMS as described in DIN EN 16802:2016-07.

Determination of Heavy Metals in Food and Food Packaging Using ICP-OES Spectrometry

For quantitative determination of heavy metals in food and food packaging ICP-OES spectrometry is widely used for quality control because of a high sensitivity, a wide dynamic range and a high sample throughput. A routine method has been developed for the determination of low concentration heavy metals in wine using the mini torch in the dual view mode for axial and radial plasma observation, which allows the determination of high concentration elements such as alkaline and alkaline earth and the heavy metals at the same time.

Determination of Antimony in Soft Drinks

Recent studies prove an increased concentration level of antimony (Sb) in several mineral waters, softdrinks, and fruit beverages. This is an alarming aspect because almost all Sb-compounds are somehow toxic and harmful to the environment. It is assumed that the antimony in the beverages originates from their packaging material polyethylene terephthalate bottles (PET), because antimony trioxide (Sb2O3) is used as a catalyst in the PET-production process. A method has been developed to analyse antimony in soft drinks. The measurements are done using the AA-7000G atomic absorption spectrophotometer with high sensitivity graphite furnace GFA-7000 and the sample preparation station ASC-7000.

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