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Selenium speciation by high performance liquid chromatography -atomic absorption spectrometry

McGill University
Publication Date
  • High Performance Liquid Chromatography.
  • Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy.
  • Selenium -- Speciation.
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Design
  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Medicine


Selenium has been shown to have multiple biochemical effects ranging from nutrient deficiency at low levels to toxicity at high levels. This duality of concern has led to a demand for increased numbers of highly accurate and precise determinations of selenium in biological materials. A convenient procedure was developed for determining selenoamino acids by HPLC-THG-AAS, based on the derivatization of these analytes with Sanger's reagent. Selenomethionine, selenocystine and selenocysteine (after blocking the free selenol group with phenylmercurio cation) were converted to their N-2,4-dinitrophenyl derivatives, and separated on a Nucleosil 5-NO$ sb2$ column with methanolic mobile phase containing acetic acid and triethylamine. Furthermore, an improved HPLC-AAS interface design was modified and optimized for the detection of selenium in HPLC column eluate. The new design was (i) compatible with aqueous mobile phases containing volatile buffers and (ii) provided equivalent molar response to analytes containing Se($-$II), Se(+IV) and Se(+VI). A method for simultaneously determination of selenate, selenite, selenocystine, selenomethionine and selenoethionine was developed by using the HPLC-AAS system with aqueous acetic acid containing ammonium acetate as eluate solution on the cyanopropyl column. The equivalent low ng limits of detection (1-2 ng as Se) for different oxidation states of selenium analytes were obtained using several different mobile phases and/or columns. A phenol extraction procedure for selenate, selenite, selenocystine, selenomethionine and selenoethionine was evaluated for the determination of these selenium analytes in natural waters and wheat samples. The current HPLC-AAS system provides an inexpensive alternative to conventional techniques for the determination of selenium analytes in environmental samples.

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