Green Sample Preparation Methods
Sample preparation is the stage of the analytical process where greenness-related issues can likely play the most important role. With the exception of direct methods for solid sample analysis, for most analytical methods it is necessary to carry out a certain number of operations to make the sample amenable to the instrument. These operations, which may include digestion, extraction, dissolution, preconcentration and clean-up, typically require the use of large amounts of acids, organic solvents, and in general, chemicals that can often be persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) as well as operating conditions that can become unsafe and energy-consuming. Therefore, sample preparation stages should be targeted as a priority when green chemistry principles are to be adapted to analytical activities. This chapter is devoted to the discussion of most relevant sample preparation strategies that approach the fulfilment of the green chemistry principles. Thus, digestion and extraction strategies from solid samples for both inorganic and organic analysis are approached using microwaves and ultrasound, followed by a discussion of modern extraction techniques, such as microwave-assisted extraction, supercritical fluid extraction, pressurized liquid extraction and solid-phase extraction for trace organic analysis. Microextraction techniques also deserve a place here, since a high degree of greenness is achieved when they are implemented in analytical methodology. Finally, application of surfactants in techniques such as cloud point extraction or membranes that allow minimizing the use of organic solvents for analysis of liquid samples are discussed.