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
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