Electrochemical and Colorimetric Nanosensors for Detection of Heavy Metal Ions: A Review

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Human exposure to acute and chronic levels of heavy metal ions are linked with various health issues, including reduced children’s intelligence quotients, developmental challenges, cancers, hypertension, immune system compromises, cytotoxicity, oxidative cellular damage, and neurological disorders, among other health challenges. The potential environmental HMI contaminations, the biomagnification of heavy metal ions along food chains, and the associated risk factors of heavy metal ions on public health safety are a global concern of top priority. Hence, developing low-cost analytical protocols capable of rapid, selective, sensitive, and accurate detection of heavy metal ions in environmental samples and consumable products is of global public health interest. Conventional flame atomic absorption spectroscopy, graphite furnace atomic absorption spectroscopy, atomic emission spectroscopy, inductively coupled plasma–optical emission spectroscopy, inductively coupled plasma–mass spectroscopy, X-ray diffractometry, and X-ray fluorescence have been well-developed for HMIs and trace element analysis with excellent but varying degrees of sensitivity, selectivity, and accuracy. In addition to high instrumental running and maintenance costs and specialized personnel training, these instruments are not portable, limiting their practicality for on-demand, in situ, field study, or point-of-need HMI detection. Increases in the use of electrochemical and colorimetric techniques for heavy metal ion detections arise because of portable instrumentation, high sensitivity and selectivity, cost-effectiveness, small size requirements, rapidity, and visual detection of colorimetric nanosensors that facilitate on-demand, in situ, and field heavy metal ion detections. This review highlights the new approach to low-cost, rapid, selective, sensitive, and accurate detection of heavy metal ions in ecosystems (soil, water, air) and consumable products. Specifically, the review highlights low-cost, portable, and recent advances in smartphone-operated screen-printed electrodes (SPEs), plastic chip SPES, and carbon fiber paper-based nanosensors for environmental heavy metal ion detection. In addition, the review highlights recent advances in colorimetric nanosensors for heavy metal ion detection requirements. The review provides the advantages of electrochemical and optical nanosensors over the conventional methods of HMI analyses. The review further provides in-depth coverage of the detection of arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), mercury (Hg), manganese (Mn), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn) ions in the ecosystem, with emphasis on environmental and biological samples. In addition, the review discusses the advantages and challenges of the current electrochemical and colorimetric nanosensors protocol for heavy metal ion detection. It provides insight into the future directions in the use of the electrochemical and colorimetric nanosensors protocol for heavy metal ion detection.


Chemistry, Physics, and Astronomy

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