X-ray fluorescence measurements of arsenic micro-distribution in human nail clippings using synchrotron radiation
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Arsenic (As) distribution in nail clippings from three healthy human subjects was investigated using the microbeam experimental setup of the hard x-ray micro-analysis (HXMA) beamline from the Canadian Light Source (CLS) synchrotron. A pair of toenail and fingernail clippings was collected from each of three subjects (one contributed two fingernail clippings). The fingernail and toenail clippings were embedded in polyester resin and cut in cross-sectional slices with an average thickness of 270 µm. Nine nail clipping cross sections were analyzed from the three subjects. The same method was used to produce five cross sections of nail phantom clippings with concentrations of As ranging from 0 to 20 µg g−1, in increments of 5 µg g−1. These samples were used to produce a calibration line for the As Kα peak. The energy of the x-ray beam was set at 13 keV for optimal excitation of As and the beam size was 28 × 10 µm2. Each sample was analyzed using a point-by-point scanning technique in a 45° beam-sample and 90° beam-detector geometry. The dwelling time was set at 30 s for the human nail clippings and 20 s for the nail phantom clippings, using a step size of 50 µm in both the horizontal and vertical directions for all samples. As concentration for each point was calculated based on the calibration line parameters and the fitted amplitude of the observed As Kα peak. As concentration maps were produced for each nail clipping cross section. The maps show that small regions (<0.1 mm2) with higher As concentrations (>1 µg g−1) are located predominantly in the ventral and dorsal layers of the nail. The results are in agreement with findings reported in a recent study and can be linked to nail histology and keratin structure.
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