A single drop of blood absorbed on to a filter paper is all that is needed for a new test for lead, based on solid sampling-graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry (SS-GFAAS). The minimally-invasive method would allow many more people, and children in particular, to be tested quickly and safely for exposure to lead and to facilitate follow-up industrial safety incidents involving the neurotoxic metal.
I wrote about this research over on the SpectroscopyNOW.com site, and asked team leader Martin Resano about the applications of his test in epidemiological studies. Apparently, there is already a well established approach to testing new-borns based on a filter paper test. However, he told me that the situation is very different, there is some reluctance in the clinic to adopt filter paper tests.
“Many people in the clinical community are against the filter paper test for Pb,” Resano told me, “Precisely, the goal of our work is to show that, if a suitable direct solid sampling technique such as SS-GFAAS is used (thus avoiding the tedious and contamination-prone step of digestion of the papers), it is feasible to achieve satisfactory results for Pb blood using the filter paper test.”