Trace Element Analysis
The Trace Element Analysis (TEA) laboratory specializes in low-level trace metal analysis and speciation in environmental and biological samples. We use inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) for metals analysis and several hyphenated techniques that couple instruments together for speciation analyses of water, soil and biological tissue samples.
The lab has three ICP-MS instruments (Agilent 7700x, Agilent 7500cx, and Element 2 ICP-MS). We can measure most elements in the periodic table with detection limits in the low ppt range or below.
Our ICP-MS instruments can also be coupled with cold vapor generation, liquid chromatography and laser ablation. With these hyphenated analyses we can
- Detect ultra-low levels of arsenic or mercury (< 1 ng/L)
- Differentiate between toxic and nontoxic forms, or species, of arsenic and mercury
- Map trace elements within a biological tissue
We are interested in new methods and new applications for hyphenated analyses. This includes work in the emerging field of metallomics, which characterizes all of the metal binding molecules in a cell, in blood, or in an organism.
The TEA lab supports Dartmouth College researchers in the Superfund Basic Research Program: Toxic Metals in the Northeast. We work especially closely with Superfund Basic Research Program Project 4 Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Exposure Assessment of Metals and Project 7 Bioaccumulation and Trophic Transfer of Toxic Metals in Aquatic Food Webs. For Project 4, we speciate arsenic and provide total concentrations from samples of water and urine. For Project 7, we measure levels of mercury and other metals in freshwater aquatic food webs.
The TEA lab also works with other researchers outside Dartmouth on a fee-for-service basis.