Trace elements are elements present in very little concentration in organisms and environment. Trace elements can be divided in two categories, the essential trace elements, which are necessary in correct concentrations for the proper functioning of the body, and de non-essential trace elements that have no purpose in organism and due to accumulation in the tissues, cause toxicity.
Analyze concentration of trace elements in various matrices with spectrometric techniques. With the aim of detecting possible risks for public health and to be able to give advice to the authorities (including EFSA, the FASFC,…) in the context of the elaboration of (new) legislations for products on the Belgian ( or European) market.
During the bachelor thesis we worked on 2 projects regarding the determination of trace elements: 1. Food enzyme preparations were mineralized with HNO3 in microwave oven and the concentrations of As, Cd, Ni, Pb in the samples were analyzed with an ICP-MS. Hg in these samples was determined with the AMA. 2.textile samples (garments) were mineralized with HNO3 + HF in a heating block and the Ti concentration was analyzed with an ICP-OES. The raw results were evaluated with the acceptance criteria and then reported.
In the food enzyme preparations (project SPECENZYM) there was in general only low concentrations of the tested elements found. Only in one sample was the concentration of Ni and As higher than the predetermined maximum limit. Pb in this sample also showed an increased concentration compared to the other samples. Since the variation between the replicas was high, a re-analysis of the sample will be performed to ensure that the observed concentrations can be confirmed. The textile samples showed a wide variation in titanium concentration. Electron microscopic research in the context of this same project has shown that Ti nanoparticles are contained in the fibers.
Only low concentrations of trace elements were found in most of the food enzyme preparations studied. The information collected can contribute to the development of legislation for this type of samples. The high observed As, Ni and Pb concentration in 1 sample deserves extra attention and can be passed on the FASFC or EFSA for additional test such as performing a risk analysis.
High total Ti concentrations were found in the textile samples investigated, and the electron microscopy pictures revealed the presence of TiO2 nanoparticles. These are unlikely to pose any danger to the user because titanium nanoparticles are embedded in the fibers, so the release is limited or does not exist. Attention is required in case of recycling or degradation of the fibers at the end of the life cycle of the garment.