Agilent Technologies Inc. and Metrohm AG introduced a high-sensitivity solution to easily detect and differentiate chromium (III), an essential nutrient, from toxic chromium (VI). Also known as hexavalent chromium, chromium (VI) is a potent toxin associated with lung cancer, kidney and liver damage, and skin and immune system disorders.
The analytical method announced uses the new Agilent Chromium Speciation Kit, which features a proprietary Agilent ion chromatography column, the Agilent Integrated Sample Integration System, and Metrohm's non-metal pump module. It can be used with any Agilent inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS). The new method has several advantages over conventional chromium detection techniques, such as UV/Vis spectroscopy. Those advantages include higher sensitivity (down to parts per trillion), improved specificity, and better reproducibility in high matrix samples, such as hard drinking water.
Measurement of chromium toxicity is required in a wide range of samples, including drinking water, food, clinical specimens, and electrical and electronic equipment and waste. The World Health Organization has provided a provisional guideline value of 50 parts per billion for total chromium in drinking water, but WHO has also suggested that "because the health effects are determined largely by the oxidation state, different guideline values for Cr (III) and Cr (VI) should be delivered."