Current applications and future perspectives on elemental analysis of non-invasive samples for human biomonitoring

Judy Tsz-Shan Lum, Yun-Nam Chan, Kelvin Sze-Yin Leung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Humans are continuously exposed to numerous environmental pollutants including potentially toxic elements. Essential elements play an important role in human health. Abnormal elemental levels in the body, in different forms that existed, have been reported to be correlated with different diseases and environmental exposure. Blood is the conventional biological sample used in human biomonitoring. However, blood samples can only reflect short-term exposure and require invasive sampling, which poses infection risk to individuals. In recent years, the number of research evaluating the effectiveness of non-invasive samples (hair, nails, urine, meconium, breast milk, placenta, cord blood, saliva and teeth) for human biomonitoring is increasing. These samples can be collected easily and provide extra information in addition to blood analysis. Yet, the correlation between the elemental concentration in non-invasive samples and in blood is not well established, which hinders the application of those samples in routine human biomonitoring. This review aims at providing a fundamental overview of analytical methods of non-invasive samples in human biomonitoring. The content covers the sample collection and pretreatment, sample preparation and instrumental analysis. The technical discussions are separated into solution analysis and solid analysis. In the last section, the authors highlight some of the perspectives on the future of elemental analysis in human biomonitoring.
Original languageEnglish
Article number122683
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Analytical Chemistry

User-Defined Keywords

  • Human biomonitoring
  • Non-invasive sample
  • Solid analysis
  • Speciation


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