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New reference material for tracing metals in human hair


The JRC produced a new European Reference Material (ERM), ERM-DB001, for monitoring the presence of arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), mercury (Hg), selenium (Se), lead (Pb) and zinc (Zn) in human hair. ERMs are highly reliable certified materials of optimum quality to improve the confidence in test results and certificates in a global market: their values are the reference to which test results are compared with in order to check whether the analysis is trustworthy.

As taking hair samples is pain-free and non-invasive, in contrast to blood tests for instance, human hair is frequently used to monitor exposure to certain metals, particularly those that are toxic. Hair is suitable because it keeps record of past contact or intake (for example through food) thanks to its sequential growth.

The JRC collected approximately 8 kg of uncoloured, untreated human hair and processed it under stringent conditions in order to produce a certified reference material (CRM) of human hair powder. This material is intended for quality control and assessment of method performance. It can also be used for establishing control charts or carrying out validation studies.

The CRM is available in amber glass bottles containing around 3.5 gram of dried and powdered human hair, placed in aluminium sachets closed under argon atmosphere.

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Source: European Commission, Joint Research Centre