New methods for the determination of total mercury in geologic materials and dissolved mercury in aqueous samples have been developed that will replace the methods currently (2006) in use. The new methods eliminate the use of sodium dichromate (Na2Cr2O7 ?2H2O) as an oxidizer and preservative and significantly lower the detection limit for geologic and aqueous samples. The new methods also update instrumentation from the traditional use of cold vapor-atomic absorption spectrometry to cold vapor-atomic fluorescence spectrometry. At the same time, the new digestion procedures for geologic materials use the same size test tubes, and the same aluminum heating block and hot plate as required by the current methods. New procedures for collecting and processing of aqueous samples use the same procedures that are currently (2006) in use except that the samples are now preserved with concentrated hydrochloric acid/bromine monochloride instead of sodium dichromate/nitric acid. Both the 'old' and new methods have the same analyst productivity rates. These similarities should permit easy migration to the new methods. Analysis of geologic and aqueous reference standards using the new methods show that these procedures provide mercury recoveries that are as good as or better than the previously used methods.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Determination of Mercury in Aqueous and Geologic Materials by Continuous Flow-Cold Vapor-Atomic Fluorescence Spectrometry (CVAFS)