Analytical challenges in the determination and speciation of mercury in the marine environment

Davidson, Christine and Keenan, Helen (2011) Analytical challenges in the determination and speciation of mercury in the marine environment. In: 10th International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant, 2011-07-24 - 2011-07-29. (Unpublished)

Full text not available in this repository.Request a copy from the Strathclyde author


Improved understanding of the role of mercury as a global pollutant relies on the availability of accurate, reliable analytical methods to determine both total mercury concentration and, often more importantly, specific mercury species in environmental samples such as seawater, marine biota and sediment. Several instrumental analytical techniques are well established for measuring total mercury in aquatic samples and solid sample extracts, notably cold vapour atomic absorption spectrometry, atomic fluorescence spectrometry and inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry. However, there is less agreement on the best methods to use to extract analyte from solid samples prior to quantification, especially where the goal is to obtain not total, but species-specific information in order to estimate risk of mercury mobilisation or bioavailability. Numerous approaches are reported in literature [1, 2]. This lack of harmonised methodology means that different analysts may generate different results from the same samples, rendering impossible the comparison of data produced in different laboratories or countries and thus undermining attempts to implement a global strategy for the management of mercury. A further analytical challenge is the lack of suitable certified reference materials (CRMs) for use in validation of analytical methods, especially methods of speciation analysis. Although some are available, a wider range needs to be produced so that workers have available CRMs that closely match the samples studied in terms of their matrix composition and approximate pollutant concentrations. Finally, given the probably increase in numbers of samples to be analysed for their mercury content in the next decade, especially in developing countries where complex laboratory facilities may be limited or non-existent, there is a need for the development of simple, field-deployable methods of analysis. These can be used as screening test to gain rapid information on approximate mercury levels in samples. More complex and costly laboratory-based analyses can then be restricted to only those samples identified as of particular interest due, for example, to the presence of high analyte concentrations.


Davidson, Christine ORCID logoORCID: and Keenan, Helen ORCID logoORCID:;