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Centre for Earth and Environmental Science Research

Arsenic and selenium speciation in food and biological samples

Executive Summary
ResearchersProfessor KE Jarvis, CEESR
Prof W Lee, Imperial College
Prof SJ Parry, Imperial College
Dr H Goenaga-Infante, LGC
Mr Sutthinun Taebunpakul, PhD Student Imperial College
Funding Body/SourceRoyal Thai Government
Duration2001 - 2011
Project Summary

Arsenic is prevalent in the environment and its toxicity is dependent on chemical form. Inorganic arsenic species, arsenite (AsIII) and arsenate (AsV) are poisonous and carcinogenic to humans, while the toxicity of other organic arsenic species is much lower. However, one organoarsenic species, dimethylarsenic acid has been shown to promote carcinogenesis in the internal organs and mutagenicity. As a result, an evaluation of biological risk due to arsenic requires the determination of not only individual inorganic species, but also individual organic arsenic species in biological samples.

Arsenic species have been determined in natural waters, samples with high chloride content, contaminated soil samples, serum, human urine, mushrooms, fresh water fish and seafood. Although seafood products have been widely studied relatively little speciation work has been attempted. The reason for this is that concentrations may be low and maintaining the integrity of the species present presents a considerable challenge.

The aim of the project is to develop an analytical method for quantification and identification of inorganic and organo-arsenic species in a range of biological matrices using hyphenated analytical techniques such as HPLC-ICP-MS.


Wahlen, R. 2003. Development of analytical techniques for the extraction, separation and determination of organometallic and inorganic metal species in environmental and biological matrices. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Kingston University (Supervisor: KE Jarvis)

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