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Implementation of trace element speciation: preparing for the 21st century


Speciation of trace elements is the occurrence of an element in separate identifiable forms, i.e. chemical, physical or morphological state. Chemical speciation of trace elements is still in its infancy. Yet it is already clear that for us to understand the true interaction of trace elements with the biosphere it is absolutely necessary to know in which chemical form they are present. Simple 'total-element determinations' cannot help us any further, only 'speciation' will allow us to progress.
The objectives of this Thematic Network are to:
- bring together a large number of researchers currently working on speciation, with a wide range of potential users from industry, the legislative bodies, as well as biomedical, pharmacological and toxicological disciplines
- catalogue and consolidate present knowledge
- define meaningful coordinated research programmes
- disseminate results and expertise through short courses, workshops, creation of training facilities, transfer of technology for routine application.
This Thematic Network will consider species of the elements aluminium, antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, platinum, selenium, tin, zinc. The list may be extended. Strategies already exist to cover these different categories of species. However, during the experimental work for each particular element, species and matrix, many difficulties came to light. Concerted action is needed within the Community to solve these problems and agree on standardized methodologies.
The creation of this Thematic Network is expected to open new horizons in environmental chemistry, occupational safety and product content. Each of the participants will contribute to the strategy of the problem-solving and to the improvement of the methodologies. One of the major, ultimate objectives of this Network is indeed validation of methodologies by other laboratories as well as testing with independent techniques. This will be a major breakthrough in assuring the quality of the analytical data. It is also essential to obtain harmonization of results. The availability of calibrants for quantification of the data and of certified reference materials plays a key-role in this undertaking.

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Universiteit Gent
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