Development of a method for the simultaneous detection of Cr(iii) and Cr(vi) in exhaled breath condensate samples using μLC-ICP-MS
The method described in this study is a robust and sensitive method for the simultaneous determination of trivalent and hexavalent chromium (Cr(III) and Cr(VI)) in an exhaled breath condensate (EBC) sample and drinking water proficiency testing material sample. The method uses a hyphenated micro liquid chromatography (μLC) system coupled to inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). The optimised method incorporates a pH adjusted EDTA complexation step to stabilise Cr(VI) and Cr(III). Separation was achieved using an anion exchange micro-sized column. The limits of quantification were 0.040 μg L−1 and 0.013 μg L−1 for Cr(III) and Cr(VI) respectively. EBC is the non-invasive collection of condensate from cooled exhaled breath during regular tidal breathing. We propose that EBC may be a suitable alternative biological matrix to give a more comprehensive picture of exposure to Cr(VI) following an inhalation exposure. This study shows that water samples and EBC samples containing Cr(III) and Cr(VI) can be stored in the fridge (∼4 °C) for up to 6 weeks when they have been diluted 10 fold with an EDTA solution, and that EBC samples must not be frozen after collection if the integrity of Cr(VI) is to be maintained. This study has demonstrated a practical approach to collecting EBC samples from workers potentially occupationally exposed to hexavalent chromium and that the integrity of the chromium species will be maintained prior to analysis.