A Method Optimization for Hair Sample Analysis Using Automated Digestion for Determining Trace Metals by ICP-MS

Poster Presentation

Prepared by S. Narkhede, N. McLeod
Questron Technologies Corp., 6660 Kennedy Road, unit 14A, Mississsauga, Ontario, L5T2M9, Canada

Contact Information: [email protected]; 905-362-1225


Trace metal analysis of hair samples performed using ICP-MS is a practical tool used, in conjunction with blood and urine analysis, for determining exposures to toxic elements, diagnosing disease progression, determining intoxication levels, and determining other factors related to health and nutrition. Blood and urine analysis alone can present sampling difficulties where subjects may be unwilling to provide, along with low levels of analyte when compared to hair samples. Since hair sample analysis is utilized as an early detection tool for human biomonitoring, the development of standardized methods for sample decomposition requires a great deal of attention. As of now, no standard protocol exists for the washing and digestion of hair samples. Many studies employ various methods of washing and decomposition. Acid digestion is the preferred technique for decomposing samples typically using nitric acid and hydrogen peroxide combinations. ,

Sample digestion consumes a major portion of time during the sample preparation process for hair analysis. Herein we describe an attempt to automate and optimize the existing digestion methods for human hair. Vulcan, an automated digestion system was used to perform acid digestion of hair samples using nitric acid and a combination of nitric acid + hydrogen peroxide. The effectiveness of digestion method is evaluated by comparing concentrations for trace metals obtained with samples digested using QLabPro, microwave digestion system.