Quantification of 71 detected elements from Li to U for aqueous samples by simultaneous-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry†
Quantitative analysis of multi-element concentrations in aqueous solutions, such as water, beverages and biofluids, has long been performed by sequential inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Recently, a fully simultaneous mass spectrum monitoring ICP-MS instrument that fits a compact Mattauch–Herzog geometry (MH-ICP-MS) with a permanent magnet and a large, spatially resolving semiconductor ion detector has been introduced. This technology allows coverage of the complete inorganic relevant mass range from 6Li to 238U in a single measurement, which helps to mitigate the restriction on the number of inorganic elements whose concentrations may be routinely measured from one sample, thus reducing operational assay times and aqueous sample volumes for evaluations across the breadth of the periodic table. We report here on a detailed method for utilizing MH-ICP-MS to detect all elements of the relevant inorganic spectrum in aqueous samples; 7 types of water, 4 types of beverage, and 4 biofluid biological samples. With this method 71 elements can be routinely detected simultaneously in seconds and in as little as 1–4 mL sample, when using a specific set of calibration and internal standards. Quantitative results reveal distinct element patterns between each sample and within types of samples, suggesting that different types of aqueous solutions can be recognized and distinguished by their elemental patterns. The method has implications for understanding elemental distribution and concentration for many fields, including nutrition, studies of the biosphere, ecological stoichiometry, and environmental health fields, among others, where broad elemental information is actually required.