NAA methods for determination of nanogram amounts of arsenic in biological samples

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The determination of arsenic at natural levels in biological materials remains difficult. Many analytical techniques cannot detect the low levels present in typical biological tissues and other techniques suffer from interferences. This paper reviews uses of neutron activation analysis (NAA) at NIST to determine nanogram amounts of arsenic in biological reference materials with radiochemical (RNAA) or instrumental (INAA) procedures. INAA is compromised by high activities from 24Na, 82Br, and 32P that may be formed during irradiation of biological tissues, and result in detection limits as high as 0.1 mg. Lower detection limits have been achieved using state-of-the-art gamma-ray spectrometry systems in INAA and a variety of procedures in RNAA. These techniques and procedures were applied recently at NIST to the determination of arsenic in urine, nutritional supplements, and total diet samples.

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