Research fields related to elemental speciation
The research fields for elemental speciation analysis are manifold and cannot be discussed in detail here. However some major fields should be mentioned:
- Environmental risk analysis with its main tasks hazard identification, dose-response assessment, and exposure assessment heavily depend on detailed speciation data, since the main characteristics of hazardous components, such as ecotoxicity, mobility and bioavailability are species dependent.
- Waste management is an area, where speciation will provide the information to facilitate remediation and to reduce costs for clean-up procedures.
- Occupational health and hygiene will benefit from speciation analysis by identification of the toxic species of exposure, differentiation of the different routes of exposure, biological monitoring of trace element species by measuring biomarkers, and studying the kinetics of trace element species in the body following occupational exposure.
- Toxicology, pharmacy, medicine, clinical chemistry and biology all benefit from speciation data, since biological activity, toxicity and metabolic pathways of trace elements, both in man and animal, heavily depend on element species. Trace element species discussed by scientists in this areas are enzymes (Zn), vitamins (Co), metallo-proteins (Se), metallo-drugs (Pt), toxins (As, Hg, Cr(VI), Cd, Pb) and their metabolic forms.
- Nutritional sciences benefit from a better understanding of the predominant chemical forms of trace elements in food and their subsequent behaviour in the digestive tract with respect to bioavailability. Speciation data would certainly assist the decision-makers concerned with dietary requirements and related legislation.
- Drinking water industry benefits from speciation data, since the toxicity of trace elements (e.g. Al, As, Cr) present in the raw water and the possibilities for reducing their concentration depend strongly on their speciation (e.g. As(III)/As(V)).
- Food industry would benefit from speciation data to improve the quality of their products.
- Chemical industry in general may benefit from speciation data to optimise processes and quality since chemical activities of reagents, catalysts, products, by-products and impurities are species dependent.
- Petrochemical industry is interested in speciation analysis, due to the fact that metalloporphyrins and other metal species are present in fossil fuels, which show species dependent behaviour in refinery. Also, organo-metallic compounds, such as tetraethyllead or tricarbonyl(2-methylcyclo-pentadienyl)manganese, are used as additives with impact on the combustion processes.
- Semiconductor industry may benefit from speciation analysis, since some of the process chemicals used are organometallic compounds or metalloid compounds of high toxicity, calling for strict control both with respect to processes and occupational hygiene.
Related EVISA Resources
Some research topics are discussed in more detail here: Brief summary: Chemical speciation analysis for the life sciences
Brief summary: Trace element speciation analysis for environmental sciences
Brief summary: Speciation analysis for the study of metallodrugs and their biomolecular interactions
Brief summary: Speciation analysis for cancer diagnostics
Further chapters: About Speciation