Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 399, Issue 5, pp 1781–1788 | Cite as

Arsenic speciation in clinical samples: urine analysis using fast micro-liquid chromatography ICP-MS

  • Jackie MortonEmail author
  • Elizabeth Leese
Original Paper


Arsenic speciation is a subject that is developing all the time both from improvements in analytical techniques and from increases in toxicological understanding. Despite speciation methods being widely developed, arsenic speciation is not routinely offered as an analysis in clinical laboratory. The work in this paper describes a simple routine method for arsenic speciation that could be easily implemented in clinical laboratories. The method described, a new, fast analytical method for arsenic speciation, is reported using micro-liquid chromatography hyphenated to an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (μLC-ICP-MS). The method uses a low-pressure delivery six-port valve with a 5 cm anion exchange column, which allows a fully resolved separation of five arsenic species (arsenobetaine [AB], arsenite [As3+], arsenate [As5+], mono-methylarsonic acid [MMA5+] and dimethylarsinic acid [DMA5+]) in urine in just 6 min. This fast analytical method offers an arsenic speciation method that is feasible for a laboratory that does not have the capability for a dedicated arsenic speciation LC-ICP-MS instrument. The micro-LC system is small, easy to install and is fully integrated with the ICP-MS software. The results reported here are from urine samples from 65 workers in a semiconductor work providing a sample for their routine biological monitoring to assess workplace exposure. Control samples from 20 unexposed people were also determined. Results show that the semiconductor workers exhibit very low levels of arsenic in their urine samples, similar to the levels in the controls, and thus are not significantly exposed to arsenic. Care must be taken when interpreting urinary arsenic species results because it is not always possible to differentiate between dietary and other external sources of exposure.


Arsenic speciation Urine Exposure Workers Controls 



The authors would like to thank Dr. Paul Watson from ESI Scientific and Dr. Simon Nelms from Thermo Fisher Scientific for their help with the One-Fast system.


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Copyright information

© British Crown Copyright 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Health and Safety LaboratoryBuxtonUK

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