Complementary chromatography separation combined with hydride generation–inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry for arsenic speciation in human urine
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This study aimed to establish complementary high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) methods including three modes of separation: ion pairing, cation exchange, and anion exchange chromatography, with detection by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS). The ion pairing mode enabled the separation of inorganic arsenate (As(V)), monomethylarsonic acid (MMA(V)), and dimethylarsinic acid (DMA(V)). However, the ion pair mode was unable to differentiate inorganic arsenite (As(III)) from arsenobetaine (AsB); instead, cation exchange chromatography was used to isolate and quantify AsB. Anion exchange chromatography was able to speciate all of the aforementioned arsenic species. Potential inaccurate quantification problem with urine sample containing elevated concentration of AsB, which eluted immediately after As(III) in anion exchange or ion pairing mode, was overcame by introducing a post-column hydride generation (HG) derivatization step. Incorporating HG between HPLC and ICPMS improved sensitivity and specificity by differentiating AsB from hydride-forming arsenic species. This paper emphasizes the usefulness of complementary chromatographic separations in combination with HG-ICPMS to quantitatively determine concentrations of As(III), DMA(V), MMA(V), As(V), and AsB in the sub-microgram per liter range in human urine.
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