Single Particle ICP-MS allows new insights tracking nanoparticle fate in environmental media

Helmut Ernstberger, PerkinElmer, Milano, Italy (
Chady Stephan, Perkinelmer, Woodbridge, Canada

Monitoring the presence of engineered, natural or incidental nanomaterials, particularly metallic or metal-containing nanoparticles (NPs) in environmental systems is essential to understand their potential ecotoxicological implications. To date, it has been challenging to detect and quantitatively analyze the concentration of metallic or metal-containing NPs in environmental samples.

Here we developed a fast and simple protocol to monitor the concentrations of NPs in environmental waters. Fast scanning techniques allow for the quantitative analysis of a full suite of elements leading to multi-element analysis via SP-ICP-MS in a single sample acquisition. The particle size, concentration and distribution, along with the dissolved concentration, is quantified for each element. With the aid of all matrix sample dilution (AMS), an online sample dilution with argon, this multi-element analysis is possible in all environmental samples from tap water to sea waters without prior dilution making it an ideal tool for the environmental monitoring of NPs.

The talk will explain how to operate single particle ICP-MS for nanoparticle analysis, highlighting new instrument capabilities.  Application examples will be discussed.


Short Biography of Presenting Author

Degree in Chemistry (Vordiplom - with Merit) at the University of Regensburg, Germany. MSc in Analytical Chemistry (with distinction) at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. PhD in Environmental Chemistry in the Marine Laboratory Aberdeen, Macaulay Land Use Research Institute & University of Aberdeen studying phosphorus transformation at the land/sea interface.

Post-doctoral Research Associate in the Department of Environmental Science, Lancaster University, England. At this time, he performed Investigations of trace metal interactions in soils using novel speciation techniques (Diffusive Gradients in Thin films - DGT) and assessment of the hazard posed by toxic metals and metal bioavailability in soils.

Project Engineer for R&D and Environmental Technology (2002 – 2004), Dorfner Anzaplan – Analytical Laboratory and Engineering Consultancy (Germany), responsible for internal and external research projects primarily concerning mineral beneficiation for product development and application tests for various mineral products in the areas high purity quartz, diatomite, and kaolin.

Lecturer, Associate Research Scientist, and Analytical Laboratory Manager in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University, USA (2005-2014). Management of the School’s environmental analytical laboratory and staff. Involved in supervision of research projects and on doctoral committees of 3 PhD students. Taught courses in instrumental analysis, aquatic chemistry, environmental chemical analysis and research ethics.

He started at PerkinElmer in 2014 as Senior Scientist, focusing on inorganic speciation for applications development using hyphenated ICP-MS techniques. Still being based at Shelton, CT he subsequently moved into the position of Senior Technical Specialist – Inorganic and Food. In 2016 he transferred to the UK as Application Scientist – ICP-MS. Since 2017 he works out of the Milano, Italy office as Field Application Specialist Inorganic for EMEA Export and Spain/PT. 

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