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ICP-MS mass spectrometry explained by the Health Ranger

Health Ranger science lab

(NaturalNews) Most people value food for its taste, but at the Natural News Forensic Food Lab, it's valued for its data. Here, Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, and colleagues unearth the toxic metals hidden in our food, which would otherwise go unnoticed by the untrained eye. But the process doesn't just involve flipping a switch. The technology behind the Forensic Food Lab mirrors a small particle collider, which detects toxic elements by breaking food down to its fundamental parts.

Adams and his team use mass spectrometry (MS) – the analysis of atomic masses – to deduce the precise elemental composition of food. An inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) is the instrument that makes this possible. The device measures the mass-to-charge ratio of each element in the sample.

The process begins by weighing food samples on an analytical scale, which is accurate to 0.0001 grams. Each sample typically weighs anywhere from 0.2 to 0.5 grams, depending on the nature of the test. The food samples are oxidized with nitric acid and diluted into 50-milliliter vials.

The meticulous standards of standards

External standards have to be re-made every day. Something as minute as a flake of dust can contaminated an external standard.

Once the mass concentrations of the standards have been determined, the ICP-MS can finally start analyzing unknown samples. Each sample is taken up through a probe and pushed into a nebulizer, which takes the liquid and transforms it into a very fine spray. Then, the spray enters a cooling chamber, which condenses the remaining water.

With the use of argon gas, the fine mist is pushed through a transfer tube into the plasma torch assembly. When the plasma coil is lit, the plasma reaches temperatures on par with those on the surface of the sun. The ion stream then funnels through a small hole and is obliterated into its isolated elements.

Finally, a small device consisting of four parallel metal rods known as a quadrapole is used to filter out the mass-to-charge ratio of each element in the standard. Only ions of a certain mass-to-charge ratio pass through the quadrapole filter. It takes about 90 seconds to analyze each standard; however, prepping the machine itself can take anywhere from an hour and a half to eight hours.

"The quadrupole is a fine-tuned charge potential stepping system that creates a kind of ionic trap door effect, allowing only the ions of a specific mass-to-charge ratio to pass through and be picked up by the detector," explained Adams.

A carefully balanced system

"The sensitivity of the instrument is so high that the concentration results can change quite dramatically with changes in humidity, temperature, barometric pressure or any other environmental changes. It has sometimes taken me eight hours to get to that first sample. There's a lot of plumbing and instrument tuning involved," noted Adams.

The Health Ranger isn't exaggerating when it comes to the plumbing of the ICP-MS. Two ventilation systems are used to keep the ICP-MS cool. The hood ventilation pulls heat out of the ICP-MS through a large tube while the chiller circulates cool water. If the difference between the internal temperature and the inlet temperature becomes too great, the system will shut down.

When it's all said and done, the machine deduces all the elements found in a sample, from lead to magnesium. The Natural News team uses this method of inquiry to ensure only the highest-quality foods make it to the Natural News Store. Nine times out of ten, food samples are rejected based upon the heavy metals Adams discovers in his lab.

Reducing polyatomic interferences with helium

Although the ICP-MS is one of the most advanced pieces of technology used in forensic food labs to date, it's not without its hurdles. One of the challenges that makes this technology difficult is polyatomic interferences, which occur when more than one atom comes together and forms a big group of atoms (a polyatomic ion) with a charge. In short, two or more elements cling together. This in turn convolutes the data. Fortunately, there is a solution.

"One of the great challenges over the last 20 years of inductively coupled mass spectrometry is to eliminate the polyatomic interferences," Adams said. "The way to do that is with helium. We put the helium into a reaction chamber where it knocks out the very heavy, overly sized, polyatomic ions. With helium, we can knock down the polyatomic interferences to less than 2 percent."

Not only does the ICP-MS deduce the exact elements present in any given sample; researchers can use that data to determine where the sample originated from. In fact, the technology used in Adam's lab is the same technology used by Homeland Security just for this purpose.

"One of the really cool things about this is we can look at isotopic ratios," Adams said. "Nuclear bombs, for example, leave a fingerprint of their isotopic ratios in those fuels. We can identify that with this instrument. So if there is a nuclear bomb deployed somewhere, for instance, we can tell which nuclear facility produced the fuel to make the bomb," he added.

Adams has been using this technology for over two years now and has tested thousands of food samples. The instrument confirmed the continued use of neurotoxic heavy metals in vaccines, among other disturbing findings. To see some of the results achieved with this amazing instrument, check out Natural News Forensic Food Lab.

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