Date of Award


Document type


Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Julian F. Tyson

Second Advisor

Richard W. Vachet

Third Advisor

Kathleen F. Arcaro

Subject Categories



Studies of the interaction of the relevant metal, metalloid or nanoparticulate species with biological systems are underpinned by the provision of reliable information about chemical composition of the relevant materials. Often, no methods of chemical analysis are available. The work described in this dissertation centers on developing methods to help with studies for a variety of analytes and samples. A method was developed for the determination of 11 trace elements (As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mg, Mn, Pb, Ti, and Zn) in human breast milk and infant formulas by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) following microwave-assisted digestion. A method was established for the determination of trace elements, with an emphasis on titanium as titanium dioxide, in snack foods and consumer products. The interactions of some dissolved metals, including rare earth elements, and metallo-nanoparticles (silver, gold, titanium dioxide, aluminum oxide, and iron) with aquatic plants were studied. After exposure in a variety of mesocosms, the partitioning of the elemental species between various compartments was quantified by ICP-MS and ICP-OES following microwave-assisted digestion. An ICP mass spectrometry (MS) method has also been developed to quantify the uptake of gold and silver nanoparticles by C. elegans. Uptake of gold nanoparticles was size dependent, suggesting increased ingestion efficiency with increased particle diameter. The feasibility of discriminating between suspended TiO2 nanoparticles and dissolved titanium by the analysis of the rapid transient signal events obtained from the ICP-MS instrument operated in a rapid response mode was also developed. Data handling parameters were established that allowed a distinction in the signals for nanoparticulate and standard solutions. Spikes in the signal were defined by distinct parameters using the mean and standard deviation, where a spike in the signal was defined as a signal > + ks (k =3). This approach however did lead to a statistical difference in the spike signal events for solutions and nanosuspensions.


Included in

Chemistry Commons