Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 15, pp 15767–15770 | Cite as

Need for revisiting the terminology about speciation

  • Gaëtane Lespes
  • Tea Zuliani
  • Dirk Schaumlöffel
Position Paper


ᅟThe term speciation is used for over 30 years, with different meanings. In the early 2000s, a reference definition was proposed. The elemental distribution is discussed only with respect to molecular structures. Polytatomic entities such as amorphous or crystalline structures, dispersed in a liquid or gas, or in the solid phase, are not taken into account. The distribution of the element, both at the interfaces and in the solids, is not yet considered. This editorial discusses the limitations of this definition and its consequences. The different terminologies proposed from the reference definition are also discussed. Given all these considerations, it is proposed that speciation is considered as a description of the physical and chemical characteristics of an element. This description should be given from the atomic scale of this element to the scale of the surrounding medium, in the continuum of size, from the dissolved or gaseous phase to the solid phases.


Physicochemical description Fractionation Nanoparticle Interface Solid phase 


  1. Al Chami Z, Cavoski I, Mondelli D, Miano T (2013) Effect of compost and manure amendments on zinc soil speciation, plant content and translocation in an artificially contaminated soil. Environ Sci Pollut Res 20(7):4766–4776CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Biggins PDE, Harrison RM (1980) Chemical speciation of lead compounds in street dusts. Environ Sci Technol 14(3):336–339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Buzea C, Pacheco II, Robbie K (2007) Nanomaterials and nanoparticles: sources and toxicity. Biointerphases 2(4):17–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chester R, Lin FJ, Basaham AS (1994) Trace-metal solid-state speciation changes associated with the down-column fluxes of oceanic particulates. J Geol Soc Lond 151:351–360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Endrizzi F, Rao L (2014) Chemical speciation of uranium (VI) in marine environment: complexation of calcium and magnesium ions with (UO2)(CO3)(3)](4-) and effect on extraction of uranium from seawater. Chem A Euro J 20(44):14499–14506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Keli Z, Weijun F, Xingmei L, Huang D, Zhang C, Ye Z, Xu J (2014) Spatial variations of concentrations of copper and its speciation in the soil-rice system in Wenling of southeastern China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 21(11):7165–7176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Li P, Feng X, Qiu G, Zhang J, Meng B, Wang J (2013) Mercury speciation and mobility in mine wastes from mercury mines in China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 20(12):8374–8381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Liu E, Shen J (2014) A comparative study of metal pollution and potential eco-risk in the sediment of Chaohu Lake (China) based on total concentration and chemical speciation. Environ Sci Pollut Res 21(12):7285–7295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Macklin MG, Dowsett RB (1989) The chemical and physical speciation of trace-metals in fine-grained overbank flood sediments in the Tyne basin, Northeast England. Catena 16(2):135–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Pascaud G, Leveque T, Soubrand M, Boussen S, Joussein E, Dumat C (2014) Environmental and health risk assessment of Pb, Zn, As and Sb in soccer field soils and sediments from mine tailings: solid speciation and bioaccessibility. Environ Sci Pollut Res 21(16):4254–4264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Tan X, Fang M, Wang X (2010) Sorption speciation of lanthanides/actinides on minerals by TRLFS, EXAFS and DFT studies: a review. Environ Sci Pollut Res 15(11):8431–8468Google Scholar
  12. Temminghoff EJM, Plette ACC, Van Eck R et al (2000) Determination of the chemical speciation of trace metals in aqueous systems by Wageningen Donnan Membrane Technique. Anal Chim Acta 417(2):149–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Templeton DM, Ariese F, Cornelis R, Danielsson LG, Muntau H, Van Leewen HP, Lobinski R (2000) Guidelines for the terms related to chemical speciation and fractionation of elements. Definitions, structural aspects, and methodological approaches (IUPAC Recommendations 2000). Pure Appl Chem 72:1453–1470CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Tessier A, Campbell PGC, Bisson M (1979) Sequential extraction procedure for the speciation of particulate trace-metals. Anal Chem 51:844–851CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ure AM and Davidson CM (2002) Introduction to speciation. Chemical speciation in the environment. Eds Ure AM and Davidson CM, 2nd edition Blackwell Science Ltd, Paris, France, ISBN 0-632-05848-X: 1-5Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gaëtane Lespes
    • 1
  • Tea Zuliani
    • 2
  • Dirk Schaumlöffel
    • 1
  1. 1.UMR 5254 Institut des Sciences Analytiques et de Physico-Chimie pour l’Environnement et les Matériaux (IPREM)Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour/CNRSPau Cedex 9France
  2. 2.Department of Environmental SciencesJožef Stefan InstituteLjubljanaSlovenia

Personalised recommendations