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Separation of nanoparticles from polydisperse environmental samples: comparative study of filtration, sedimentation, and coiled tube field-flow fractionation

Abstract : Nanoparticles (NPs) in the environment have a potential risk for human health and the ecosystem due to their ubiquity, specific characteristics, and properties (extreme mobility in the environment, abilities to accumulate of toxic elements and penetrate into living organisms). There is still a gap in studies on the chemical composition of natural NPs. The main reason is the difficulty to recover NPs, which may represent only one-thousandth or less of the bulk environmental sample, for further dimensional and quantitative characterization. In the present study, a methodology for the recovery of the nanoparticle fraction from polydisperse environmental samples was developed taking as example volcanic ashes from different regions of the world. For the first time, three separation methods, namely, filtration through a 0.45-μm membrane, sedimentation, and coiled tube field-flow fractionation (CTFFF), were comparatively studied. The separated fractions were characterized by laser diffraction and scanning electron microscopy and then analyzed by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission and mass spectrometry. It has been shown that all three methods provide the separation of NPs less than 400 nm from the bulk material. However, the fraction separated by sedimentation also contained a population (5% in mass) of submicron particles (~ 400–900 nm). The filtration resulted in low recovery of NPs. The determination of most trace elements was then impossible; the concentration of elements was under the limit of detection of the analytical instrument. The sedimentation and CTFFF made it possible to determine quantifiable concentrations for both major and trace elements in separated fractions. However, the sedimentation took 48 h while CTFFF enabled the fractionation time to be decreased down to 2 h. Hence, CTFFF looked to be the most promising method for the separation of NPs followed by their quantitative elemental analysis.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, December 17, 2019 - 4:46:48 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, February 2, 2021 - 2:58:06 PM

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Alexandr Ivaneev, Stéphane Faucher, Mikhail Ermolin, Vasily Karandashev, Petr Fedotov, et al.. Separation of nanoparticles from polydisperse environmental samples: comparative study of filtration, sedimentation, and coiled tube field-flow fractionation. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, Springer Verlag, 2019, 411, pp.8011-8021. ⟨10.1007/s00216-019-02147-9⟩. ⟨hal-02416495⟩

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