First Advisor

Dean B. Atkinson

Date of Award

Spring 6-12-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Chemistry and University Honors






Arsenic, ICP-MS, heavy metal pollution, public health, urban air quality




Heavy metal pollution is a recognized concern with an established source of anthropogenic activity, which is ever-increasing. While work has been done to make the monitoring of some metals more accessible, resourceful, and efficient with the use of epiphytic moss as a bio-indicator, this method has not been optimized for the detection of arsenic. Previously used analytical instrumentation has not proven sensitive enough to reliably detect arsenic, creating a gap in the monitoring process. However, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is proposed as the solution to fill this gap. Its potential for low limits of detection and quantification express a sensitivity that is optimal for trace heavy metal analysis. This instrument was used to investigate the same moss sampling sites around an area of interest where previous instruments were largely unable to even detect inorganic arsenic in the moss biomass. Analysis with ICP-MS resulted in the detection of arsenic in each moss sample, demonstrating its superiority over the previous instruments, but confirmation of accurate and precise quantification was still not achieved. The range of arsenic concentrations obtained, which averaged to 0.35 ± 0.054 mg/kg on a 95% CI, was above the limit of detection of but below the limit of quantitation. However, two distinct opportunities for further optimization of the calibration process and subsequent lowering of the quantitation limit were noticed and are recommended for future analysis.


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