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Special Issue "Isotopic Fingerprinting of Metals: From Environment to Human Body"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Science and Engineering".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2018

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. George D. Kamenov

Department of Geological Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: George Kamenov’s research is focused on using ICP-MS and MC-ICP-MS instrumentation to decipher geochemical cycle of a number of elements, including heavy metals such as Pb.
Guest Editor
Dr. Laura S. Ruhl

Department of Earth Sciences, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, AR 72204, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Laura Ruhl’s research focuses on environmental geochemistry issues with special emphasis on water and sediment related issues.

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We mine and use vast amounts of metals and other raw materials at present. As a result, the natural geochemical cycles of a number of metals in the modern environment are altered, or even dominated, by anthropogenic activities. Recent developments in mass-spectrometry, in particular MC-ICP-MS and TIMS, allow us to measure isotope abundances of a number of metals with unprecedented precision and accuracy in various environmental and biological samples. The goal of this special issue is to create a forum to highlight new developments in using traditional (e.g., Sr, Pb, Nd) and non-traditional (e.g., Li, Mg, Si, Ca, Cr, Fe, Cu, Zn, Mo, Hg, U) isotopes for tracing metals from the environment to the human body. These recent advances can be highlighted with publications of new research findings on the following topics:

  1. Novel use of traditional radiogenic isotopes such as high-precision Pb isotopes or Sr or Nd isotopes for exploring exposure and metal sources to humans.
  2. Use of Hg and U isotopes for source identification and pathways for human exposure.
  3. Use of non-traditional isotopes, such as Li, Si, Mg, Cr, Fe, Zn, Cu, Mo for deciphering metal sources and pathways from the environment to humans.
  4. Analytical advances in measurements of traditional and non-traditional isotopes in environmental and biological samples.
  5. Theoretical considerations examining fractionation of non-traditional metal isotopes in environmental and biological samples.

In addition, reviews on any of the above topics are also welcomed. The ultimate goal of this Special Issue is to show how we can use isotope information to decipher what controls the abundance and isotopic composition of metals in the modern environment, and ultimately, how these metals enter the human body.

Dr. George D. Kamenov
Dr. Laura S. Ruhl
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

1. If you are a potential author of this Special Issue; or 2. If you are interested in this Special Issue, but cannot submit a paper at this time; We encourage you to join our reviewer database at: https://susy.mdpi.com/volunteer_reviewer/step/1 When you help to review other manuscripts in this Special Issue, you will be offered a voucher of reduction from the APC for each valid review, which can be used immediately for your current submission, or for your future submissions to any MDPI journal.


  • radiogenic isotopes
  • non-traditional metal isotopes
  • isotope tracing
  • environmental exposure
  • metal sources to humans
  • medical geology
  • geology and health
  • isotopic fingerprints

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessFeature PaperCommentary Concerns about Quadrupole ICP-MS Lead Isotopic Data and Interpretations in the Environment and Health Fields
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(4), 723; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15040723
Received: 9 March 2018 / Revised: 28 March 2018 / Accepted: 8 April 2018 / Published: 11 April 2018
PDF Full-text (27122 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
There has been a massive increase in recent years of the use of lead (Pb) isotopes in attempts to better understand sources and pathways of Pb in the environment and in man or experimental animals. Unfortunately, there have been many cases where the
[...] Read more.
There has been a massive increase in recent years of the use of lead (Pb) isotopes in attempts to better understand sources and pathways of Pb in the environment and in man or experimental animals. Unfortunately, there have been many cases where the quality of the isotopic data, especially that obtained by quadrupole inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (Q-ICP-MS), are questionable, resulting in questionable identification of potential sources, which, in turn, impacts study interpretation and conclusions. We present several cases where the isotopic data have compromised interpretation because of the use of only the major isotopes 208Pb/206Pb and 207Pb/206Pb, or their graphing in other combinations. We also present some examples comparing high precision data from thermal ionization (TIMS) or multi-collector plasma mass spectrometry (MC-ICP-MS) to illustrate the deficiency in the Q-ICP-MS data. In addition, we present cases where Pb isotopic ratios measured on Q-ICP-MS are virtually impossible for terrestrial samples. We also evaluate the Pb isotopic data for rat studies, which had concluded that Pb isotopic fractionation occurs between different organs and suggest that this notion of biological fractionation of Pb as an explanation for isotopic differences is not valid. Overall, the brief review of these case studies shows that Q-ICP-MS as commonly practiced is not a suitable technique for precise and accurate Pb isotopic analysis in the environment and health fields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Isotopic Fingerprinting of Metals: From Environment to Human Body)

Figure 1

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Type: Article
Title: Tracing Copper Migration in the Tongling Area through Copper Isotope Values in Soils and Waters
Authors: Ryan Mathur 1,*, Su Jingwen 2, Glenn Brumm 1 , Peter D’Amico 1 and Shmiri Song 2
Affiliations: 1   Juniata College, Huntingdon PA USA; mathurr@juniata.edu
2   Chinese Geological Survey, Nanjing Center, Nanjing, China
*   Correspondence: mathurr@juniata.edu; Tel.: +01-814-641-3725
Abstract: Copper mining in Tongling has occurred since the bronze age and this area is known as one of the historic first places where copper has been and is extracted. Multiple studies have demonstrated, through concentration work on soils and waters, the impact of mining in the area. Here we present copper isotope and concentration values of 20 water samples (surface and groundwater) and 80 soil samples (15 different profiles ranging in depth from 0-2m) from proximal to distal (up to 10km) locations radiating from a tailings dam and tailings pile. Oxidation of the copper sulfide minerals results in isotopically heavier oxidized copper. Thus, copper sourced from sulfide minerals has been used to trace copper in mining and environmental applications. At Tongling, higher copper isotope values (greater than 1 per mil, which are interpreted to be derived from copper sulfide weathering) are found both in waters and the upper portions of soils (5-100cm) within 1Km of the source tailings. At greater than 1Km the soils do not possess heavier copper isotope values, however the stream water samples that have low copper concentrations (<10ppb) have heavier values up to 6.5Km from the source. The data suggest that copper derived from the mining activities remains relatively proximal in the soils but can be traced in the waters at greater distances.
Keywords: copper isotopes; Tongling; copper concentration; mining

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