Speciation analysis provides the information necessary to describe the effects of active species ( Why should it be done ?)
which is not available from the results of total trace element determinations. It is therefore predictable, that the concepts based on total trace element determination, such as
- Trace element determination
- Toxicity of elements
- Essentiality of elements
- Metals as environmental pollutants and workplace hazards
- Trace metals in human health and nutrition
will be replaced gradually by the more meaningful concepts using the information of speciation, that means
- Trace element speciation
- Toxicity of element species
- Essentiality of element species
- Element species as environmental pollutants and workplace hazards
- Trace element species in human health and nutrition
The additional information is very useful to direct actions enhancing the quality of products, improving production processes, reducing health risks associated with toxic species,leading to improved understanding of life and better control for the environment.
The nutritional value of food products can be enhanced by using the additional information about the bioavailability of nutrient species. It is not the total iron in milk or bread which is of interest, but the bioavailable iron.
It makes little sense to ban fish from the market because of too high arsenic content, if this is originating from non-toxic species such as arsenobetaine.
While Cr(III) compounds playing a positive role in the human glucose metabolism, Cr(VI) compounds are classified as carcinogen.
There is some indication, that some organoselenium compounds are scavangers of free radicals and so reduce the risk for some types of cancer in humans. The development of a food supplement or pharmaceutical exploiting this beneficial effect should, however, be based on the information of the most active species in order to reduce the risk for side effects.