The need to distinguish between chemical forms of an element such as Cr III/VI, As III/V, and organic v. inorganic mercury has become critical for food, environmental, and pharmaceutical analysis. In the past, measuring the total amount of an element was sufficient. Unfortunately, the effects of an element extend far beyond its absolute amount, since different forms of an element can exhibit very distinct levels of toxicities. The process of separation and quantification of different oxidation states of an element, more specifically termed speciation analysis, can be utilized to determine an element’s various chemical forms.
Speciation analysis can be split into two components: separation of individual ionic species by ion chromatography followed by trace elemental detection and quantification using ICP/MS. The combined method is termed Ion Chromatography – Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectroscopy (IC – ICP/MS). Using ICP/MS as a sensitive elemental detector in combination with a selective separation technique such as Ion Chromatography provides complete information on the chemical form (species) of an element.
Elements Currently Speciated Using IC and ICP/MS
|Chromium||Cr+3 , Cr+6|
|Mercury||Hg+2, EtHg+, and MeHg+|
For ion analysis, the Thermo Scientific™ Dionex™ ion chromatography solutions deliver uniquely beneficial technology: Reagent-Free™ Ion Chromatography (RFIC™) systems. These RFIC systems use electrolytic technologies to generate eluents and regenerants from deionized water. The net effect decreases time spent on equilibration, calibration, method verification, and troubleshooting. Minimizing the unintentional variations in preparation of eluents and regenerants discards the need for required consistence checks.
ICP/MS combines the ICP source with a mass spectrometer for fast mult-element analysis with extreme sensitivity (sub ppt detection). The Thermo Scientific iCAP Q™ ICP/MS system represents a unique platform to determine total elemental concentration. The iCAP Q allows for high sensitivity that can provide single figure ppt detection limits for low mass elements. As a result, a full mass range analysis can be carried out for routine samples in environmental or food applications. Additionally, the iCap Q series provides a low mass cut off so unwanted species do not pass through the quadrupole mass filter.
When coupling a Dionex Ion Chromatography system with the iCAP Q, it has essentially become feasible to measure every element in the periodic table. Both techniques successfully provide a complete picture when it comes to analyzing both total elemental concentration as well as the ionic state of the element of interest.
The Thermo Scientiﬁc iCAP Q with the Thermo Scientiﬁc Dionex ICS-5000+ HPIC System
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