Determination of Arsenic in Traditional Chinese Medicine by Microwave Digestion With Flow Injection-Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (FI-ICP-MS)

J AOAC Int. Jul-Aug 1999;82(4):963-7.


A simple, rapid, and sensitive method with high sample throughput was developed for determining arsenic in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in the form of uncoated tablets, sugar-coated tablets, black pills, capsules, powders, and syrups. The method involves microwave digestion with flow injection-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (FI-ICP-MS). Method precision was 2.7-10.1% (relative standard deviation, n = 6) for different concentrations of arsenic in different TCM samples analyzed by different analysts on different days. Method accuracy was checked with a certified reference material (sea lettuce, Ulva lactuca, BCR CRM 279) for external calibration and by spiking arsenic standard into different TCMs. Recoveries of 89-92% were obtained for the certified reference material and higher than 95% for spiked TCMs. Matrix interference was insignificant for samples analyzed by the method of standard addition. Hence, no correction equation was used in the analysis of arsenic in the samples studied. Sample preparation using microwave digestion gave results that were very similar to those obtained by conventional wet acid digestion using nitric acid.

MeSH terms

  • Arsenic / analysis*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / analysis*
  • Flow Injection Analysis*
  • Legislation, Drug
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional*
  • Microwaves
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Singapore


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Arsenic