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Sodium and potassium are cations that are found in the extracellular fluids such as blood plasma and intracellular fluids respectively and play an important role particularly in the brain, heart, muscle, heart and nervous system. They are involved in several body processes. For…
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Download file to see previous pages However, severe malfunction of the heart and the nervous system can be caused by significant excess of the elements in the body. Abnormally high or low levels of sodium or potassium can be caused by excess use of diuretic drugs, poor diet or impaired kidney function. These conditions may lead to nausea, seizures, lethargy, irregular heartbeat, coma and even death in severe cases.
Although cases of deliberate poisoning using sodium and potassium, they are readily and widely available in a salt form. Potassium chloride solution can be administered through intravenous injection and have been used in euthanasia and political assassinations.
Sodium and potassium levels can be monitored using flame photometry. The analytical technique is a simple form of atomic spectroscopy that depends on the atomic emission process. The solution of the sample is drawn into a flame which is sufficiently hot to cause atomization and electronic excitation of certain elements. They emit visible radiation at wavelengths that are specific to that element as the atoms return to their ground state. The radiation is isolated by an appropriate filter and converted to an electrical current that is proportional to the intensity of the emitted radiation therefore determining the concentration of the element. Flame photometers are relatively cheap and portable but can only determine alkaline and alkaline earth metals such as sodium, potassium, lithium barium and lithium (Chawla, 2003).
This experiment is aimed to measure the concentrations of sodium and potassium by use of flame photometry in a range of samples in connection to fictitious criminal investigation. An 18 month old infant, Master Nathaniel Carbuncle, was admitted to a hospital intensive care unit suffering from nausea and fatigue, a slow heartbeat and weak pulse. The child was found to have an abnormal blood electrolyte ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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