Detection of Engineered Copper Nanoparticles in Soil Using Single Particle ICP-MS

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015 Dec 10;12(12):15756-68. doi: 10.3390/ijerph121215020.


Regulatory efforts rely on nanometrology for the development and implementation of laws regarding the incorporation of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) into industrial and consumer products. Copper is currently one of the most common metals used in the constantly developing and expanding sector of nanotechnology. The use of copper nanoparticles in products, such as agricultural biocides, cosmetics and paints, is increasing. Copper based ENMs will eventually be released to the environment through the use and disposal of nano-enabled products, however, the detection of copper ENMs in environmental samples is a challenging task. Single particle inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy (spICP-MS) has been suggested as a powerful tool for routine nanometrology efforts. In this work, we apply a spICP-MS method for the detection of engineered copper nanomaterials in colloidal extracts from natural soil samples. Overall, copper nanoparticles were successfully detected in the soil colloidal extracts and the importance of dwell time, background removal, and sample dilution for method optimization and recovery maximization is highlighted.

Keywords: copper; nanoparticles; soil contamination; spICP-MS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Austria
  • Copper / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Mass Spectrometry*
  • Metal Nanoparticles / analysis*
  • Metals / analysis*
  • Particle Size
  • Soil / chemistry*
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*


  • Metals
  • Soil
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Copper