Ivan Kempson - Characterising arsenic in preserved hair for assessing exposure potential and discriminating poisoning

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      Publication Details (including relevant citation   information):

      IM Kempson, D   Henry, J Francis, Characterising arsenic in preserved hair for   assessing exposure potential and discriminating poisoning, J   of Synchrotron Radiation, 16,422-427, 2009.  


      Advanced analytical techniques have been used to characterize   arsenic in taxidermy specimens. Arsenic was examined to aid in   discriminating its use as a preservative from that incorporated   by ingestion and hence indicate poisoning (in the case of   historical figures). The results are relevant to museum curators,   occupational and environmental exposure concerns, toxicological   and anthropological investigations. Hair samples were obtained   from six taxidermy specimens preserved with arsenic in the late   1800s and early 1900s to investigate the arsenic incorporation.   The presence of arsenic poses a potential hazard in museum and   private collections. For one sample, arsenic was confirmed to be   present on the hair with time-of-flight secondary ion mass   spectrometry and then measured with neutron activation analysis   to comprise 176 mg g-1. The hair cross section was analysed with   synchrotron micro-X-ray fluorescence to investigate the   transverse distribution of topically applied arsenic. It was   found that the arsenic had significantly penetrated all hair   samples. Association with melanin clusters and the medulla was   observed. Lead and mercury were also identified in one sample.   X-ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy of the As Kedge indicated   that an arsenate species predominantly existed in all samples;   however, analysis was hindered by very rapid photoreduction of   the arsenic. It would be difficult to discriminate arsenic   consumption from topically applied arsenic based on the physical   transverse distribution. Longitudinal distributions and chemical   speciation may still allow differentiation.

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