Multiple treatment (i.e., drying, chemical digestion, and oxidation) steps are often required during preparation of biological matrices for quantitative analysis of mercury; these multiple steps could potentially lead to systematic errors and poor recovery of the analyte. In this study, the Direct Mercury Analyzer (Milestone Inc., Monroe, CT) was utilized to measure total mercury in fish tissue by integrating steps of drying, sample combustion and gold sequestration with successive identification using atomic absorption spectrometry. We also evaluated the differences between the mercury concentrations found in samples that were homogenized and samples with no preparation. These results were confirmed with cold vapor atomic absorbance and fluorescence spectrometric methods of analysis. Finally, total mercury in wild captured largemouth bass (n = 20) were assessed using the Direct Mercury Analyzer to examine internal variability between mercury concentrations in muscle, liver and brain organs. Direct analysis of total mercury measured in muscle tissue was strongly correlated with muscle tissue that was homogenized before analysis (r = 0.81, p < 0.0001). Additionally, results using this integrated method compared favorably (p < 0.05) with conventional cold vapor spectrometry with atomic absorbance and fluorescence detection methods. Mercury concentrations in brain were significantly lower than concentrations in muscle (p < 0.001) and liver (p < 0.05) tissues. This integrated method can measure a wide range of mercury concentrations (0-500 ??g) using small sample sizes. Total mercury measurements in this study are comparative to the methods (cold vapor) commonly used for total mercury analysis and are devoid of laborious sample preparation and expensive hazardous waste. ?? Springer 2006.
Additional publication details
An evaluation of a reagentless method for the determination of total mercury in aquatic life