Although there is no consensus on the definition of this term, it can be said that “heavy metals” are a group of chemical elements with relatively high density and toxic at low doses. Their harmful effects on living beings make the knowledge about its presence, identification, quantification and monitoring of great relevance, mainly in the environmental (water, soil) and health (medicines, food, fluids and biological tissues) areas.
The chemical elements normally included in the heavy metals group are arsenic, cadmium, copper, tin, antimony, lead, bismuth, silver, mercury, molybdenum, indium, osmium, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, chromium, nickel and vanadium.
Between these elements, arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury can be highlighted due to their high toxicity. These heavy metals are classified as ‘Class 1’ elemental impurities in pharmaceuticals according to ICH-Q3D (International Concil of Harmonization) guidelines, therefore, monitoring of these substances in this type and sample is mandatory.