Trace element reference values in tissues from inhabitants of the European Community. III. The control of preanalytical factors in the biomonitoring of trace elements in biological fluids

C. Minoia, R. Pietra, E. Sabbioni, A. Ronchi, A. Gatti, A. Cavalleri, L. Manzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In the context of a programme concerning the determination of trace elements in body fluids and tissues to establish trace element reference values, research has been undertaken on the control of preanalytical factors in order to develop sufficiently accurate and precise guidelines to be applied in routine work by using techniques such as graphite furnace atomic absorption spectroscopy (GFAAS). Aspects investigated are related to the risk of contamination during blood collection and the use of anticoagulants; the risk of losses during storage and freeze-drying as well as the possible risk of contamination arising from trace elements in airborne particulates of the laboratory environment. For the analysis of Al, Ba, Cd, Co, Cr, Mn, Mo, Ni, Sb, W, V and Zn in blood, Teflon cannula is the method of choice. The anticoagulants do not introduce disturbing contaminations of Rb, Se, Zn, while contaminations were observed for Co, Cr, Mn. Radiotracers in 'metabolized form' (radiolabelled rat or rabbit tissues from animals administered with radioisotopes) show that samples stored for 1 month at -20°C have no significant trace metal losses. Strict ambient air quality standard has to be respected (continuous monitoring) due to the possibility of element contaminations inside the laboratory. The use of matrix modifiers could represent a toxicological risk to the operators. Critical factors should be considered ('metal sheets') for each element in each matrix. For instance 27 factors for Cr in serum have been suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-79
Number of pages17
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 9 1992



  • graphite furnace atomic absorption spectroscopy
  • neutron activation analysis and radiotracers
  • preanalytical factors (control)
  • trace element contaminations and losses
  • trace element reference values in tissues
  • trace elements in human tissues

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

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