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Characterization of Undigested Particulate Material Following Microwave Digestion of Recycled Document Papers

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Recycled document paper was microwave digested in a solution of HNO3 and H2O2 prior to analysis by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) to determine the trace elemental concentrations within the paper. Undigested particulate material was observed and subsequently characterized as a mixture of kaolin (clay) and TiO2 by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction spectroscopy. The effect of the particulate material on the elemental concentrations was then investigated. Paper samples were completely digested in hydrofluoric acid (HF) and element concentrations determined in the HF and HNO3/H2O digests were statistically compared using Student’s t-test (95% confidence limit). Statistical differences in element concentrations between the two digests were observed for only four elements and there was no evidence of element adsorption by the particulate material. Hence, the HNO3/H2O2 digestion proved sufficient to digest paper for ICP-MS analysis, eliminating the need to use the hazardous and corrosive HF matrix.

Keywords: document paper; forensic science; inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry; microwave digestion; trace elements; undigested particulate material

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Forensic Science Program, School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI. 2: Department of Geological Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

Publication date: September 1, 2009


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