Halogen determination in food and biological materials using plasma-based techniques: challenges and trends of sample preparation
Halogens are a group of reactive elements, which are capable of making stable bonds with metals and nonmetals. Due to their properties, they play an important biochemical role in living organisms; some, such as F, Cl and I, are essential for humans, whereas others, such as Br, are non-essential and can cause key toxicological effects. This is probably the main reason why this group of elements has been extensively studied in food and biological materials, especially in recent years. The determination of halogens at trace levels requires suitable instrumentation, and plasma-based techniques, such as inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) and especially inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), are particularly well suited for this purpose. Although they are very versatile for performing multielemental determination, halogens present high ionization potentials and low wavelength emission lines, and they are prone to interferences due to matrix effects. Such drawbacks are difficult to overcome without changing instrumental features, such as mass or optical resolution. On the other hand, some interferences due to the presence of dissolved carbon in solution, enhancement or suppression of ionization, and related matrix effects can be minimized by applying an appropriate sample preparation step. In this sense, the present review covers the main sample preparation methods applied for halogen determination in food and biological materials by using ICP-OES and ICP-MS. Methods based on dilution, solubilization, extraction or those involving matrix decomposition (e.g., acid digestion and combustion) are discussed based on key applications selected in the last 20 years.
- This article is part of the themed collection: JAAS Emerging Investigator Lectureship winners