Describe the use of atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS) in detecting
concentrations of metal ions in solutions and assess its impact on
scientific understanding of the effects of trace elements.
A trace element is a chemical element required in minute quantities by an
organism to maintain proper physical functioning.
Trace elements are important for many body functions including transporting
oxygen, normalising the nervous system and simulating growth, maintenance
and repair of tissues and bones, trace elements used by the human body can
include Copper, Selenium and Iron.
The flame containing the vapourised sample absorbs light at the particular
wavelengths characteristic of the element in the flame and re-emits it in all
directions. A detector records the intensity of light emerging from the flame
indicating the amount of metal ions in the vapourised sample. An analytical
chemist can determine the level of a specific trace metal in the blood when
the solution in the flame has light at the particular wavelengths characteristic
of the element passing through the flame emitting light the chemist can the
determine the amount of the metal ion in the blood by the intensity of the light
that has passed through the flame, the higher the intensity the less of the
metal found in the blood.
Humans obtain energy and essential nutrients from food grown in soils and
from animals that feed on plants supported by soils. Depleting beneficial trace
metals in the soil have proven to had a profound impact on the well-being of
plants and animals that depend on soil to thrive as such deficiencies may
inhibit the simulation of growth or the maintenance and repair of tissues and
bones inevitably affecting humans as we are not receiving the correct amount
of trace metals required for our growth and maintenance and repair of tissue.
Such problems can be monitored by collecting numerous small samples of
soil from a particular crop creating a solution containing small quantities of the
soil and putting it in the AAS to determine the amount of trace elements in the
soil by subjecting the solution in the flame to certain a certain light with a
particular wave length that will emit a certain intensity of light determining the
amount of a trace element in the soil, this can then be corrected by the
addition of the certain required trace element.