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Network on trace element speciation - preparing for the 21st century


Speciation is an indispensable tool for studies on the biogeochemistry of trace elements. The need for the determination of individual chemical species (speciation analysis) occurs especially where these species are known to be very toxic to humans and biota e.g. As(III), Cr(VI) and Se(VI), methylmercury or tributyltin. Consequently, the increasing concern for an improved control of (environment and food) contamination levels and of knowledge of trace element toxical impact has led to the development of new analytical techniques for the determination of a wide variety of compounds which is also reflected by a considerable increase in the number of determinations. Many problems remain unsolved, e.g. the control of the quality of speciation measurements is often hampered by the lack of suitable reference materials and the techniques are not sufficiently adapted to routine analysis. Other problems are more acute and stand for a lack of communication between scientists, industry representatives and legislators for the possible improvement of written standards and EC regulations; indeed legislation, at present, mainly concern total element contents which is in many cases useless for an accurate risk evaluation (e.g. for environmental contamination, food quality, health risks etc.). It is hence timely to share expertise and views among different communities in order to improve the situation. This network has been selected for funding after the approval of a first step which was granted in 1996. The implementation phase was positively evaluated in January 1997.

The main objective of the network is to bring together scientists with a background in analytical chemistry interested in speciation method development with potential users from industry and representatives from legislative bodies.
The inaugural meeting has successfully been held in Überlingen (DE) on 4-5 December 1997. The Web-page is in preparation and will include the minutes of this meeting.

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Universiteit Gent
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86,Proeftuinstraat 86
9000 Gent

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Participants (6)