16.09.2014

Distribution of uranium and selected trace metals in Balkan human scalp hair using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry

Hair analysis is extensively used in forensic sciences, assessment of occupational or environmental exposure and in some cases for clinical and nutritional studies. The present study summarizes the analytical methodology and distribution of uranium and some selected trace metals e.g., Mn, Ni, Cu, Zn, Sr, Cd and Cs in human scalp hair samples using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Uranium isotopic ratio (235U/238U) has been measured using thermal ionization mass spectrometry (TIMS). For quality control, five certified reference materials such as SRM 1571, NIES 13, IAEA 086, NCS ZC 81002 and BCR CRM 397 have been analyzed by the proposed methods and the measured uranium concentrations in some selected hair samples were compared with the results by radiochemical neutron activation analysis (RNAA). The methodology was applied for measurement of uranium and selected trace metals in human scalp hair collected from Balkans exposed to DU ammunitions. Uranium concentrations in human hair samples from Balkans show a wide variation ranging from 0.90 ± 0.05 ng/g to 449 ± 12 ng/g whereas other trace metal concentrations like Mn, Ni, Cu, Zn, Sr, Cd and Cs were found to be comparable with the reported values of healthy persons worldwide. Though hair samples were collected from a Balkan conflict zone, uranium isotopic measurement (235U/238U) indicated natural origin rather than depleted uranium.

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