, Volume 3, Issue 1-2, pp 79-102
Date: 12 Aug 2006

A Primer on the Analytical Aspects of Silicones at Trace Levels-Challenges and Artifacts – A Review

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Abstract

Silicones (polydimethylsiloxanes) find use in a wide variety of industrial and consumer product applications because of their outstanding properties. Potential human exposure to silicones occurs at the work place during manufacturing and product formulation, as well as through the normal use of consumer products containing them.

The entry of silicones into various environmental compartments raised health and safety concerns from potential exposure and mandated numerous environmental and toxicological studies. Such studies require qualitative and quantitative determination of silicone species at trace levels. However, the ubiquitous presence of silicones coupled with their unique chemistry renders their analysis at trace levels challenging.

This paper provides a consolidated account of various aspects silicones that must be borne in mind to obtain reliable data. The following are some of topics discussed: differences in the chemistry of silicones vs carbon; precautions in sample handling to avoid losses and inadvertent chemical transformation; potential sources for artifacts and interferences that could lead to systematic errors and data misinterpretation; sources for background and the need for matrix matched blank experiments; distinguishing silicones from silicates to avoid overestimation; potential for incorrect structural assignments; preventing inadvertent contamination; questionable claims on the presence of silicones in biological matrices including that of silicone implants.