Microcolumn-based speciation analysis of thallium in soil and green cabbage.Sci Total Environ. 2018 Jul 15; 630:146-153.ST
Thallium (Tl) is a toxic trace metal, whose geochemical behavior and biological effects are closely controlled by its chemical speciation in the environment. However, little tends to be known about this speciation of Tl in soil and plant systems that directly affect the safety of food supplies. In this context, the objective of the present study was to elaborate an efficient method to separate and detect Tl(I) and Tl(III) species for soil and plant samples. This method involves the selective adsorption of Tl(I) on microcolumns filled with immobilized oxine, in the presence of DTPA (diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid), followed by DTPA-enhanced ultrasonic and heating-induced extraction, coupled with ICP-MS detection. The method was characterized by a LOD of 0.037 μg/L for Tl(I) and 0.18 μg/L for Tl(III) in 10 mL samples. With this method, a second objective of the research was to assess the speciation of Tl in pot and field soils and in green cabbage crops. Experimental results suggest that DTPA extracted Tl was mainly present as Tl(I) in soils (>95%). Tl in hyperaccumulator plant green cabbage was also mainly present as Tl(I) (>90%). With respect to Tl uptake in plants, this study provides direct evidence that green cabbage mainly takes up Tl(I) from soil, and transports it into the aboveground organs. In soils, Tl(III) is reduced to Tl(I) even at the surface where the chemical environment promotes oxidation. This observation is conducive to understanding the mechanisms of Tl isotope fractionation in the soil-plant system. Based on geochemical fraction studies, the reducible fraction was the main source of Tl getting accumulated by plants. These results indicate that the improved analytical method presented in this study offers an economical, simple, fast, and sensitive approach for the separation of Tl species present in soils at trace levels.