Wavelength dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometry has been shown by scientists in Portugal to be a suitable tool for assessing lead concentration in animal bone, which will help investigate lead metabolism and public health issues. The toxic nature of Pb means that it is important to monitor its levels in the environment and occupational exposure. Pb exposure can cause reduced bone mass and lead to osteoporosis.
Currently, this condition is diagnosed by assessing bone mineral density, usually with single of dual X-ray absorptiometry, but this is not optimal. Looking at Pb levels in vivo is difficult because of biological variations and its interaction with other elements. A multi element approach is better. Currently multi-element energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence is used to examine internal organs such as bone. But this requires considerable preparation time. Here, the use of wavelength dispersive X-ray fluorescence has been shown to be a feasible alternative and was used to determine Pb concentrations in bone powder.