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Short-column liquid chromatography with hydride generation atomic fluorescence detection for the speciation of arsenic

Le, X. C.; Ma, M.

Date Published:





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May 1, 1998


PMID: 9599587


Increasing concerns over human exposure to arsenic and more stringent environmental regulations require rapid determination of trace levels of individual arsenic species, which presents an analytical challenge. We describe a method that is capable of speciating nanogram-per-milliliter levels of arsenite (As(III)), arsenate (As(V)), monomethylarsonic acid (MMAA), and dimethylarsinic acid (DMAA) within 3 min. Speciation of two common inorganic species in drinking water, As(III) and As(V), is complete in 1.5 min. The method is based on a combination of fast high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) separation of arsenic species on 3-cm HPLC guard columns and the sensitive detection of arsenic hydride by atomic fluorescence spectrometry. Detection limits for the four arsenic species in urine samples are 0.4-0.8 ng/mL. This simple method allows for the direct speciation of arsenic present in natural water samples and in human urine samples from the general population, with no need of any sample pretreatment. Our results from the determination of arsenic species in urine and water standard reference materials are in good agreement with the certified values of total arsenic concentration. The method has been successfully applied to speciation studies of metabolism of arsenosugars following the consumption of arsenosugar-containing mussels by human volunteers. Speciation of arsenic in urine samples collected from four volunteers after the ingestion of musseles reveals significant increases of DMAA concentration, resulting from the metabolism of arsenosugars. These results suggest that the commonly used biomarkers for assessing human exposure to inorganic arsenic, which are based on the determination of urinary arsenite, arsenate, MMAA, and DMAA, are not reliable when arsenosugar-containing seafood is ingested.

Automatic Tags

Humans; Male; Adult; Fluorescence; Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid; Meat; Arsenicals; Bivalvia

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