Not so sweet: Arsenic in your honey

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  • Published: May 15, 2019
  • Author: David Bradley
  • Channels: Atomic
thumbnail image: Not so sweet: Arsenic in your honey

ETAAS

Electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry (ETAAS) has been used to determine arsenic concentrations in honey samples. The samples were prepared using a dispersive liquid-liquid microextraction (DLLME) method developed based on the application of a magnetic ionic liquid (MIL) to create an extractant phase.

Electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry (ETAAS) has been used to determine arsenic concentrations in honey samples. The samples were prepared using a dispersive liquid-liquid microextraction (DLLME) method developed based on the application of a magnetic ionic liquid (MIL) to create an extractant phase.

Arsenic is toxic and carcinogenic and it is almost ubiquitous in the environment, in water, the atmosphere, soil, and food. Of course, problems arise when the accumulated dose to which a person is exposed exceeds a certain threshold, it is usually present in foods at very low concentrations a quarter of a microgram per gram. However, as mentioned, the element does accumulate in the body and so it is important to monitor and regulate concentrations. Honey could be of particular concern given the transport of heavy metals and arsenic from the flowers of plants that have themselves accumulated the toxic substances, which are then carried by worker bees to their hives and thence into the honey they make to feed their larvae.

Magnetically susceptible

Emiliano Fiorentini, Brenda Canizo, and Rodolfo Wuilloud of the Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry for Research and Development (QUIANID), at Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Instituto Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Básicas (ICB), UNCUYO-CONICET, in Mendoza, Argentina, describe their method as allowing an accurate measurement of arsenic contamination of honey samples to be made even in the complex organic matrix of the MIL without the need of a centrifugation stage. The arsenic(III) species was pre-concentrated by chelation with ammonium diethyldithiophosphate in hydrochloric acid, followed by extraction with the MIL trihexyl(tetradecyl)phosphonium tetrachloroferrate(III) and acetonitrile as dispersant, the analyte being plucked from the mixture very easily with a magnet.

Honey quality control

The team adds that, once the conditions were optimized they were able to achieve an extraction efficiency of 99% with a sensitivity enhancement factor of 110. "The limit of detection was 12 nanograms per litre," the team reports in the journal Talanta. They point out that this work represents the first application of the magnetic ionic liquid in conjunction with the DLLME technique for the determination of arsenic in honey samples. The team cautions that the presence of iron in the MILs could be a cause of interference and so additional work is now need to account for this putative artifact in the AAS measurements.

Nevertheless, they conclude, "the proposed MIL-DLLME method can be considered a valuable tool for the determination of trace amounts of arsenic in honey samples and an attractive tool for routine laboratories dedicated to the quality control of this type of food.

Related Links

Talanta 2019, online: "Determination of As in honey samples by magnetic ionic liquid-based dispersive liquid-liquid microextraction and electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry"

Article by David Bradley

The views represented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

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