Using IC-ICP/MS Technique to Separate Antimony Containing Nanoparticles in Airborne Particulate Matter


Over the last few years, there has been a worrying increase in the concentration of antimony (Sb), which has led to environmental concern about this element. The increased concentration is a result of the widespread industrial use of antimony. For instance, antimony compounds are used in electronic components, in brake linings, and in the production of ceramics and glassware. Nanoparticles containing antimony are present in urban atmospheric particulate matter (PM).

Sb(III), Sb(V) and Sb-containing nanoparticles in airborne particulate matter

Although many questions about antimony’s chemistry are yet to be answered, many studies about its environmental relevance have been published recently. It is established that the toxicological and physiological behavior of antimony, as well as of other elements such as As, are influenced by the oxidation state. Similar to As, Sb(III) is much more toxic than Sb(V) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) suspects Sb2O3 is carcinogenic to humans.


By using the method described here, the two main inorganic forms of extractable antimony present in atmospheric PM samples were analyzed. The method is quick and can be easily applied to intensive monitoring campaigns. Following the analyses of different types of road dust and brake pads, it was found that the main source of Sb(III) in urban coarse particles was brake pad abrasion and the Sb(III)/Sb(V) ratio is primarily driven by the temperature the pad reaches during braking, as shown in Figure 1. No spontaneous conversion of Sb (III) into Sb (V) in the atmosphere was seen.

Figure 1. Separation of Sb(III) and Sb(V) by IC-ICP/MS in different samples: a–b) two different types of brake pads, c) dust from a car braking system d) road dust. Column: Metrosep A Supp 5 - 150/4.0; eluent: 10 mmol/L EDTA, 1 mmol/L potassium hydrogen phthalate (pH 4.5); flow rate: 0.7 mL/min, isocratic; m/z 121

Antimony – further applications with IC-ICP/MS

Relevance of Sb(III), Sb(V), and Sb-containing nanoparticles in urban atmospheric particulate matter - Canepari, S.; Marconi, E.; Astolfi, M. L.; Perrino, C. (2010) Anal. Bioanal. Chem. 397(6), 2533–2542.


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About Metrohm

Metrohm is one of the world’s most trusted manufacturers of high-precision instruments for chemical analysis. Metrohm was founded in 1943 by engineer Bertold Suhner in Herisau, Switzerland. Today, Metrohm is represented in 120 countries by subsidiaries and exclusive distributors. The global Metrohm Group also includes the Dutch companies Metrohm Applikon and Metrohm Autolab, manufacturers of online analyzers and instruments for electrochemical research, respectively. Recently, the Metrohm Group was joined by Metrohm Raman, a leading manufacturer of handheld Raman spectrometers.

Metrohm is the global market leader in analytical instruments for titration. Instruments for ion chromatography, voltammetry, conductivity, and stability measurement make the Metrohm portfolio for ion analysis complete. Instruments for Near-infrared and Raman spectroscopy are another, strongly growing segment of the Metrohm portfolio.

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Last updated: Oct 10, 2017 at 8:58 AM

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