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The establishment of EVISA is funded by the EU through the Fifth Framework Programme (G7RT- CT- 2002- 05112).

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Trace element speciation analysis for environmental sciences


As always, chemical analysis is acting as an information science, providing the data necessary to answer certain questions, such as:
  • Data on the emission, transport and exchange of matter between different compartments of the environment.
  • Data on the chemistry, geo-chemistry, bio-geo-chemistry of different pollutants and other materials in the environment.
  • Data on the bioaccessibility, bioavailability and toxicity of pollutants towards plants, animals and humans.
  • Data on the chemical and physical effects of pollutants with respect to the energy balance, mass and energy flows of the earth.
NB!:     Such characteristics depends primarily on chemical species not on their elemental composition !

Since trace element analysis does not provide the information for a deep understanding of environmental processes involved in the cycling of elemental species in the environment, its application is costly since it is not fit-for-purpose.

Despite such lack in information value, most often legislation is calling for trace element analysis with limited information value, simply to compare the results with those obtained in former years (kind of status monitoring).  However in research work, were the aim is to understand processes and follow the species on their way through environmental compartments and their transformation by biogeochemical processes, chemical speciation analysis is mandatory.

It is this understanding, which has led to an increasing use of speciation analytical methodology in environmental analysis. The EVISA News (see below) provide an overview of the hot topics discussed during the last 10 years. Review articles may guide the interested reader towards the relevant literature:

Reviews related to chemical speciation analysis for the environment (newest first)

M. Llaver, E.F. Fiorentini, M.N. Oviedo, P.Y. Quintas, R.G. Wuilloud, Elemental Speciation Analysis in Environmental Studies: Latest Trends and Ecological Impact, Int. J. Environ. Res. Pub. Health, 18/22 (2021) 12135. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph182212135

L.H. Liu, Y.G. Yin, L.G. Hu, B. Hu, J.B. Shi, G.B. Jiang, Revisiting the forms of trace elements in biogeochemical cycling: Analytical needs and challenges, Trends Anal. Chem., 129 (2020) 115953. DOI: 10.1016/j.trac.2020.115953

R. Milacic, J. Scancar, Cr speciation in foodstuffs, biological and environmental samples: Methodological approaches and analytical challenges - A critical review, Trends Anal. Chem., 127 (2020) 115888. DOI: 10.1016/j.trac.2020.115888

H.M. Yu, C.H. Li, Y.F. Tian, X.M. Jiang, Recent developments in determination and speciation of arsenic in environmental and biological samples by atomic spectrometry, Microchem. J., 152 (2020) 104312. DOI: 10.1016/j.microc.2019.104312

F. Ardini, G. Dan, M. Grotti, Arsenic speciation analysis of environmental samples, J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 35/2 (2020) 215-237. DOI: 10.1039/c9ja00333A

M.C. He, N.N. Wang, X.J. Long, C.J. Zhang, C.L. Ma, Q.Y. Zhong, A.H. Wang, Y. Wang, A. Pervaiz, J. Shan, Antimony speciation in the environment: Recent advances in understanding the biogeochemical processes and ecological effects, J. Environ. Sci. (China), 75 (2019) 14-39. DOI: 10.1016/j.jes.2018.05.023

L.N. Suvarapu, S.O. Baek, Recent Studies on the Speciation and Determination of Mercury in Different Environmental Matrices Using Various Analytical Techniques, Int. J. Anal. Chem., 2017 (2017) 3624015. DOI: 10.1155/2017/3624015

Emilia Grygo-Szymanko, Anna Tobiasz, Stanislaw Walas, Speciation analysis and fractionation of manganese – a review, Trends Anal. Chem., 80 (2016) 112-124. DOI: 10.1016/j.trac.2015.09.010

Nikolaos Kallithrakas-Kontos, Spyros Foteinis, Recent Advances in the Analysis of Mercury in Water - Review, Current Anal. Chem., 12 (2016) 22-36. DOI: 10.2174/157341101201151007120324

E.M. Kroukamp, T. Wondimu, P.B.C. Forbes, Metal and metalloid speciation in plants: Overview, instrumentation, approaches and commonly assessed elements, Trends Anal. Chem., 77 (2016) 87–99. DOI: 10.1016/j.trac.2015.10.007

Daniel Sánchez-Rodas, Ana M. Sánchez de la Campa, Louay Alsioufi, Analytical approaches for arsenic determination in air: A critical review, Anal. Chim. Acta, 898 (2015) 1–18. DOI: 10.1016/j.aca.2015.09.043

M. Jablonska-Czapla, Manganese and its speciation in environmental samples using hyphenated techniques: A review,  J. Elem., 20/4 (2015) 1061-1075. DOI: 10.5601/jelem.2014.19.4.787

Sven Sindern, Jan Schwarzbauer, Lars Gronen, Alexander Görtz, Stefan Heister, Manuela Bruchmann, Tl-speciation of aqueous samples – a review of methods and application of IC-ICP-MS/LC-MS procedures for the detection of (CH3)2Tl+ and Tl+ in river water, Int. J. Environ. Anal. Chem., 95/9 (2015) 790-807. DOI: 10.1080/03067319.2015.1058932

W.A. Maher, M.J. Ellwood, F. Krikowa, G. Raber, S. Foster, Measurement of arsenic species in environmental, biological fluids and food samples by HPLC-ICPMS and HPLC-HG-AFS, J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 30/10 (2015) 2129-2183. DOI: 10.1039/c5ja00155b

Chris F. Harrington, Robert Clough, Steve J. Hill, Yolanda Madrid, Julian F. Tyson, Atomic Spectrometry Update: review of advances in elemental speciation, J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 30 (2015) 1427-1468. DOI: 10.1039/c5ja90028j
Rajani Jagtap, William Maher, Measurement of mercury species in sediments and soils by HPLC–ICPMS, Microchem. J., 121 (2015) 65–98. DOI: 10.1016/j.microc.2015.01.010

Maurizio Pettine, Thomas J. McDonald, Mary Sohn, George A.K. Anquandah, Radek Zboril, Virender K. Sharma, A critical review of selenium analysis in natural water samples, Trends Environ. Anal. Chem., 5 (2015) 1–7. DOI: 10.1016/j.teac.2015.01.001 

Kiranmayi P. Mangalgiri, Asok Adaka, Lee Blaney, Organoarsenicals in poultry litter: Detection, fate, and toxicity, Environ. Int., 75 (2015) 68–80. DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2014.10.022

Owen T. Butler, Warren R.L. Cairns, Jennifer M. Cook, Christine M. Davidson, 2014 atomic spectrometry update – a review of advances in environmental analysis, J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 30/1 (2015) 21-63. DOI: 10.1039/c4ja90062f

Barbara Markiewicz, Izabela Komorowicz, Adam Sajnóg, Magdalena Belter, Danuta Baralkiewicz, Chromium and its speciation in water samples by HPLC/ICP-MS – technique establishing metrological traceability: A review since 2000, Talanta, 132 (2015) 814–828. DOI: 10.1016/j.talanta.2014.10.002

Christina Hein, Jonas M Sander, Ralf Kautenburger, Speciation via Hyphenation–Metal Speciation in Geological and Environmental Samples by CE-ICP-MS, J. Anal. Bioanal. Tech., 5/6 (2014) 225. DOI: 10.4172/2155-9872.1000225

Yong-Guan Zhu, Masafumi Yoshinaga, Fang-Jie Zhao, Barry P. Rosen, Earth Abides Arsenic Biotransformations, Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci., 42 (2014) 443–467. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-earth-060313-054942

Yasuo M. Nakamaru, Javkhlantuya Altansuvd, Speciation and bioavailability of selenium and antimony in non-flooded and wetland soils: A review, Chemosphere, 111 (2014) 366–371. DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.04.024

Markus Gräfe, Erica Donner, Richard N. Collins, Enzo Lombi, Speciation of metal(loid)s in environmental samples by X-ray absorption spectroscopy: A critical review, Anal. Chim. Acta, 822 (2014) 1–22. DOI: 10.1016/j.aca.2014.02.044

Sergio L.C. Ferreira, Walter N.L. dos Santos, Ivanice F. dos Santos, Mario M.S. Junior, Laiana O.B. Silva, Uenderson A. Barbosa, Fernanda A. de Santana, Antonio F. de S. Queiroz, Strategies of sample preparation for speciation analysis of inorganic antimony using hydride generation atomic spectrometry, Microchem. J., 114 (2014) 22–31. DOI: 10.1016/j.microc.2013.11.019

Janez Scancar, Radmila Milacic, A critical overview of Cr speciation analysis based on high performance liquid chromatography and spectrometric techniques, J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 29 (2014) 427-443. DOI: 10.1039/c3ja50198a

Jorge Muse, Valeria Tripodi and Silvia Lucangioli, An Overview of Capillary Electrophoresis In Element Speciation Analysis of the Environment, Curr. Anal. Chem., 10/2 (2014) 225-230. DOI: 10.2174/15734110113099990008

M.S. El-Shahawi, H.M. Al-Saidi, E.A. Al-Harbi, A.S. Bashammakh and A.A. Alsibbai, Speciation and Determination of Tellurium in Water, Soil, Sediment and other Environmental Samples, in: Sezgin Bakirdere, Speciation Studies in Soil, Sediment and Environmental Samples, CRC Press, Boca Raton, 2013, Pages 527–544. DOI: 10.1201/b15501-15

Valderi Luiz Dressler, Clarissa Marques Moreira dos Santos, Fabiane Goldschmidt Antes, Erico Marlon de Moraes Flores, Dirce Pozebon, Speciation Analysis of Tin in Environmental Samples, in: Sezgin Bakirdere, Speciation Studies in Soil, Sediment and Environmental Samples, CRC Press, Boca Raton, 2013, Pages 478-512. DOI: 10.1201/b15501-13

Nsikak U. Benson, Winifred U. Anake, Ifedolapo O. Olanrewaju, Analytical Relevance of Trace Metal Speciation in Environmental and Biophysicochemical Systems, Am. J. Anal. Chem., 4 (2013)  633-641. doi: 10.4236/ajac.2013.411075

Jacek Namiesnik, Anna Rabajczyk, Speciation Analysis of Chromium in Environmental Samples, Crit. Rev. Environ. Sci. Technol., 42 (2012) 327–377. DOI: 10.1080/10643389.2010.518517

Debasis Das, Utpal Gupta, Arabinda K. Das, Recent developments in solid phase extraction in elemental speciation of environmental samples with special reference to aqueous solutions, Trends Anal. Chem., 38 (2012) 163-171. doi: 10.1016/j.trac.2011.01.020

Muhammad Shoaib, Hassan Mohammad Al-Swaidan, Review on Toxic Metal Speciation Analysis Based on Coupled Technique HPLC-ICP-MS (environmental aspects), J. Chem. Soc. Pak., 34 (2012) 1585-1593.

Ying Gao, Zeming Shi, Zhou Long, Peng Wu, Chengbin Zheng, Xiandeng Hou, Determination and speciation of mercury in environmental and biological samples by analytical atomic spectrometry, Microchem. J., 103 (2012) 1–14. doi: 10.1016/j.microc.2012.02.001

Sudhir Kumar Pandey, Ki-Hyun Kim, Richard J.C. Brown, Measurement techniques for mercury species in ambient air, Trends Anal. Chem., 30/6 (2011) 899-917. doi: 10.1016/j.trac.2011.01.017

Regina de Carvalho Oliveira, Ricardo Erthal Santelli, Occurrence and chemical speciation analysis of organotin compounds in the environment: A review, Talanta 82 (2010) 9–24. doi: 10.1016/j.talanta.2010.04.046

Jacek Namiesnik, Anna Rabajczyk, The Speciation of Aluminum in Environmental Samples, Crit. Rev. Anal. Chem., 40/2 (2010) 68—88. DOI: 10.1080/10408340903153234

Maximilian Popp, Stephan Hann, Gunda Koellensperger, Environmental application of elemental speciation analysis based on liquid or gas chromatography hyphenated to inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry—A review, Anal. Chim. Acta, 668 (2010) 114–129. doi: 10.1016/j.aca.2010.04.036

R. Miravet, E. Hernandez-Nataren, A. Sahuquillo, R. Rubio, J.F. Lopez-Sanchez, Speciation of antimony in environmental matrices by coupled techniques, Trends Anal. Chem., 29/1 (2010) 28-39. doi: 10.1016/j.trac.2009.10.006 

Janet G. Hering, Metal speciation and bioavailability: revisiting the ‘big questions’, Environ. Chem. 2009, 6, 290–293. doi: 10.1071/EN09021

Erwin Rosenberg, Germanium: environmental occurrence, importance and speciation, Rev. Environ. Sci. Bio/Technol., 8 (2009) 29-57. doi: 10.1007/s11157-008-9143-x

Jörg Feldmann, Pascal Salaün, Enzo Lombi, Critical review perspective: elemental speciation analysis methods in environmental chemistry – moving towards methodological integration, Environ. Chem., 6 (2009) 275–289. doi: 10.1071/EN09018

Markus Lenz, Piet N.L. Lens, The essential toxin: The changing perception of selenium in environmental sciences, Sci. Tot. Environ., 407 (2009) 3620-3633. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.07.056

Zu Liang Chen., Gary Owens, Trends in speciation analysis of vanadium in environmental samples and biological fluids—A review, Anal. Chim. Acta., 607 (2008) 1-14. doi: 10.1016/j.aca.2007.11.013

 Related EVISA Resources

Link page: All about environmental sciences
Link Database: Legislation related to environmental issues (water)
Link Database: Legislation related to environmental issues (soil)
Link Database: Legislation related to environmental issues (air)
Link Database: Environmental Pollution
Link Database: Environmental Cycling
Link Database: Environmental Health
Link Database: Environmental exposure of humans

Agenda of Events: Events related to Environmental Issues

Directory of scientists: Scientists interested in Environmental Issues
EVISA News related to Environmental Issues

Brief summary: Tools for elemental speciation
Brief summary: ICP-MS - A versatile detection system for speciation analysis
Brief summary: LC-ICP-MS - The most often used hyphenated system for speciation analysis
Brief summary: GC-ICP-MS
Brief summary: CE-ICP-MS for speciation analysis
Brief summary: ESI-MS: The tool for the identification of species
Brief summary: Speciation Analysis - Striving for Quality
Brief summary: Atomic Fluorescence Spectrometry as a Detection System for Speciation Analysis
Brief summary: Gas chromatography for the separation of elemental species
Brief summary: Plasma source detection techniques for gas chromatography
Brief summary: Fractionation as a first step towards speciation analysis
Brief summary: Flow-injection inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry for speciation analysis
Brief summary: Gel electrophoresis combined with laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry for speciation analysis

Material Database: Materials for speciation analysis
Material Database: Materials for Arsenic speciation analysis
Material Database: Materials for Chromium speciation analysis
Material Database: Materials for Mercury speciation analysis
Material Database: Materials for Selenium speciation analysis
Material Database: Materials for Tin speciation analysis

 Related EVISA News

February 7, 2018: Huge Amounts of Toxic Mercury Found Hidden in the Arctic Permafrost
July 19, 2017: U.S. EPA Approves Limits on Mercury in California Waters
November 11, 2015: New theory for the cause of Earth's mass extinctions: lack of essential selenium
September 18, 2015: Elephant seals’ fur as a source for methylmercury in coastal sea water
July 18, 2015: Incorporation of rare earth elements in the shell of freshwater mussels as an indicator for their bioavailability from polluted river water
July 9, 2015: Accurate determination of hexavalent chromium in agricultural soil
April 17, 2015: Effect of dissolved humic acid on the bioavailability of lead from contaminated soil
March 13, 2015: New insights on arsenic cycling
February 3, 2015: Mercury levels in Pacific yellowfin tuna increasing
September 2, 2014: Man is significantly contaminating oceans with mercury
June 20, 2014: Iron-reducing bacteria could detoxify hexavalent chromium
February 20, 2014: New study shows: Coastal water, not sediment, predicts methylmercury bioaccumulation in the marine food web
February 9, 2014: Roxarsone and it metabolites in organic fertilizer lead to human exposure to arsenic
February 2, 2014: Natural wetlands contribute significantly to elemental cycling by volatilization
December 8, 2013: Arsenic species distribution in drinking water wells in the USA with high arsenic concentrations 
November 7, 2011: Toxic mercury remnants of gold rush will seep into San Francisco area waterways for millennia
  August 24, 2013: California proposes new hexavalent chromium standard for drinking water
February 8, 2013: ORNL scientists solve mystery about mercury methylation
January 14, 2013: New data shows: Mercury emissions rising globally ( 14.01.2013 )
October 18, 2012: The behavior of Gd-based contrast agents during wastewater treatment
April 22, 2012: UCSC Researchers Discover Methyl Mercury in California Coastal Fog
March 11, 2012: Manganese concentrations in air particulates higher in residential neighborhoods than industrial sites, varies by region
January, 25, 2012: New Report Shows High Levels of Mercury in Terrestrial Ecosystems
December 21, 2011: Tracing the source of mercury pollution
December 20, 2011: Mercury is converted to oxidized species in the upper atmosphere facilitating its entrance into the food chain
December 19, 2011: Anthropogenic Mercury Releases Into the Atmosphere from Ancient to Modern Time
November 11, 2011: New Report is first to quantify Health Impacts from World's Worst Toxic Pollution Problems
October 15, 2011: Mercury pollution in the Great Lakes region -- nearly forgotten, but not gone
June 28, 2010: New Study Examines Why Mercury is More Dangerous in Oceans
June 17, 2009: 'Surprisingly High Levels' of Methylmercury Contamination found in Groundwater
May 5, 2009: Ocean mercury on the rise

October 9, 2006: Linking atmospheric mercury to methylmercury in fish
September 23, 2006: Report Finds Mercury Contamination Permeates Wildlife Systems
September 13, 2005: Regulating Mercury Emissions from Power Plants: Will It Protect Our Health?
April 3, 2005: Dissension on the best way to fight mercury pollution
March 20, 2005: New results on the distribution of mercury in the USA is fueling the discussion on the necessity of the reduction of its emission

last time modified: December 13, 2023


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