Single-Particle ICP-MS as a Screening Technique for the Presence of Potential Inorganic Nanoparticles in Food

Janja Vidmar, Luisa Hässmann, Katrin Loeschner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

In this work, we show the potential of single-particle inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (spICP-MS) as a screening technique for detection of inorganic nanoparticles (NPs) that are expected to be present in food. We demonstrate that the spICP-MS/MS method in combination with collision/reaction cell gases and microsecond dwell times offers sensitive and interference-free detection of NPs. We present the steps that have to be considered to correctly assess the presence of NPs in food, for example, setting a suitable threshold for discriminating particle events from the baseline and analyzing a sufficient number of blank samples to minimize false-positive results. We applied the proposed screening approach to the sequential detection of NPs containing 8 selected elements that could be potentially present in 13 different food products. The highest mass concentrations of NPs (in the mg/g range) were found in the samples with food additives which are known to contain a fraction of NPs. The presence of (nano)particles in some of the investigated food samples was also confirmed by scanning electron microscopy analysis. Moreover, for the example of Al-containing NPs in Chinese noodles, we demonstrate that identification of the source of NPs with an unknown composition can be challenging when using only spICP-MS as particle mass concentration and size distribution can only be estimated by assuming a certain particle composition/shape. Other complementary techniques for particle characterization, such as electron microscopy in combination with elemental analysis, are therefore required.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Volume69
Issue number34
Pages (from-to)9979-9990
ISSN0021-8561
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Screening
  • Food samples
  • Inorganic nanoparticles
  • Single-particle ICP−MS
  • Scanning electron microscopy

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