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Methods of analysis by the U. S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Laboratory; determination of organic plus inorganic mercury in filtered and unfiltered natural water with cold vapor; atomic fluorescence spectrometry

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2001-4132

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Abstract

An analytical method using cold vapor? atomic fluorescence spectrometry was developed by the U.S. Geological Survey in 2001 for the determination of organic plus inorganic mercury in filtered and unfiltered natural water. This method was developed to eliminate the use of acid dichromate preservative and to provide capability to measure ambient mercury concentrations in natural water. Dissolved mercury includes all oxidizable mercury species present in natural water that has been filtered through a 0.45- micrometer pore size capsule filter. Wholewater recoverable mercury includes dissolved mercury species and mercury species adsorbed to particulate matter in unfiltered natural water. Mercury species can include elemental mercury, mercury (II), mercury (II) complexes, various alkyl- and phenylmercury compounds, and other forms of mercury. In this method, samples are collected and processed according to standard U.S. Geological Survey protocols. Samples are preserved onsite with 6N hydrochloric acid in a ratio of 1 to 100 in a borosilicateglass bottle with fluoropolymer-lined cap. Mercury species are oxidized to mercury (II) by using bromine monochloride; excess oxidation reagent is neutralized with hydroxylamine hydrochloride. Elemental mercury produced after adding stannous chloride is purged from the solution with ultrapure argon gas into a cell in which the mercury concentration is measured by atomic fluorescence emission at 253.7 nanometers. The analytical response is linear up to 125 nanograms per liter (ng/L) of mercury, and the short-term method detection limit is about 5 ng/L. The analytical variability at 50 ng/L is about 10 percent. This report describes the method and compares the use of hydrochloric acid to acid dichromate as a field preservative. Ambient mercury concentrations in hydrochloric acidpreserved samples stored in borosilicate-glass bottles with fluoropolymer-lined caps are shown to be stable for at least 30 days. Mercury concentrations are stable for at least 5 months after bromine monochloride is added to the sample bottles in the laboratory. The long-term average percent recoveries at 20, 45, and 75 ng/L in reagent water, filtered and unfiltered ground water, and filtered and unfiltered surface water range from 89 to 108, 96 to 103, and 94 to 98 percent, respectively.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Methods of analysis by the U. S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Laboratory; determination of organic plus inorganic mercury in filtered and unfiltered natural water with cold vapor; atomic fluorescence spectrometry
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
2001-4132
Edition:
-
Year Published:
2001
Language:
ENGLISH
Description:
16 p.