In recent years, bismuth has been promoted as a "green element" and is used as a substitute for the toxic lead in ammunition and other applications. However, the bioavailability and toxicity of bismuth is still not very well described. Following a hunting accident with bismuth-containing shots, a bioavailability study of bismuth from metal pellets inoculated into rat limb muscles was carried out. Bismuth could be found in urine and blood of the animals. Bio-imaging using laser ablation ICP-MS of thin sections of the tissue around the metal implant was carried out to find out more about the distribution of the metal diffusing into the tissue. Two laser ablation systems with different ablation cell designs were compared regarding their analytical performance. Low concentrations of bismuth showing a non-symmetrical pattern were detected in the tissue surrounding the metal implant. This was partly an artefact from cutting the thin sections but also bio-mobilisation of the metals of the implant could be seen. An accumulation of zinc around the implant was interpreted as a marker of inflammation. Challenges regarding sample preparation for laser ablation and bio-imaging of samples of diverse composition became apparent during the analysis.
- tissue thin section