Methodological considerations on the determination of benthic methyl-mercury (CH3Hg) production potentials were investigated on lake sediment, using 197Hg radiotracer. Three methods to arrest bacterial activity were compared: flash freezing, thermal sterilization, and ??-irradiation. Flash freezing showed similar CH3Hg recoveries as thermal sterilization, which was both 50% higher than the recoveries obtained with ??-ray irradiation. No additional radiolabel was recovered in kill-control samples after an additional 24 or 65 h of incubation, suggesting that all treatments were effective at arresting Hg(II)-methylating bacterial activity, and that the initial recoveries are likely due to non-methylated 197Hg(II) carry-over in the organic extraction and/or [197Hg]CH3Hg produced via abiotic reactions. Two CH3Hg extraction methods from sediment were compared: (a) direct extraction into toluene after sediment leaching with CuSO4 and HCl and (b) the same extraction with an additional back-extraction step to thiosulphate. Similar information was obtained with both methods, but the low efficiency observed and the extra work associated with the back-extraction procedure represent significant disadvantages, even tough the direct extraction involves higher Hg(II) carry over. ?? 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Methodological considerations regarding the use of inorganic 197Hg(II) radiotracer to assess mercury methylation potential rates in lake sediment