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Rapid pre-concentration of mercury in solids and water for isotopic analysis

February 11, 2019

The precise quantification of mercury (Hg) stable isotope compositions in low concentration or dilute samples poses analytical challenges due to Hg mass limitations. Common Hg pre-concentration procedures require extended processing times, making rapid Hg stable isotope measurements challenging. Here we present a modified pre-concentration method that combines commonly used Hg reduction and gold trap amalgamation followed by semi-rapid thermal desorption (less than 1 h) and chemical trapping. This custom designed system was demonstrated to perform adequately on multiple trapping matrices including a new bromine monochloride (BrCl) wet oxidant trap (40% 3HNO3:BrCl), capable of trapping consistently in 2 mL volume over a wide range of Hg masses (5–200 ng). The procedure was also shown to work effectively on natural matrices, waters and sediments, producing comparable isotope results to the direct digestion analyses. Here, we present a method that can effectively triple sample throughput in comparison to traditional procedures, and also access lower concentration matrices without compromising the accuracy or precision of Hg isotope measurements.

Publication Year 2019
Title Rapid pre-concentration of mercury in solids and water for isotopic analysis
DOI 10.1016/j.aca.2018.12.026
Authors Sarah E. Janssen, Ryan F. Lepak, Michael T. Tate, Jacob M. Ogorek, John F. DeWild, Christopher L. Babiarz, James P. Hurley, David P. Krabbenhoft
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Analytica Chimica Acta
Index ID 70202095
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Upper Midwest Water Science Center