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The Cu, Mn and Zn concentration of sheep wool: Influence of washing procedures, age and colour of matrix

Hawkins, D.P., Ragnarsdóttir, K.V.
Science of the total environment 2009 v.407 no.13 pp. 4140-4148
sheep, wool, hairs, copper, manganese, zinc, trace elements, chemical analysis, chemical concentration, washing, age, color, melanin
No standard or wholly proven method to determine the trace metal status of human or animal 'hair' yet exists. It is well known that hair-metal concentrations are highly influenced by washing procedures applied before analysis. A novel method to determine the efficiency of washing procedures at removing exogenous contaminants was devised. It was shown that suitability of washing procedures was element-specific and increased sonication time during washing progressively removed more Mn and Zn from sheep wool. The efficiency of exogenous contaminant removal by including sonication during washing was also dependant on the efficiency of procedures under study. The Cu, Mn and Zn concentration, and thus exogenous contaminant level, of sheep wool increased in tandem with its age. Additionally, Cu and Zn concentrations of black wool were significantly higher than white wool: a relationship ascribed to melanins. This investigation shows the necessity to standardise procedures used during analysis of 'hair' fibres, and to assess each washing procedure for each element before performing routine analysis.