Mercury (Hg) is a global pollutant which occurs in different species, with methylmercury (MeHg) being the critical compound due to its neurotoxicity and bioaccumulation through the food chain. Methods for trace speciation ofMeHg are therefore needed for a vast range of sample matrices, such as biological tissues, fluids, soils or sediments. We have previously developed an ultra-trace speciation method for methylmercury in water, based on a preconcentration HPLC cold vapour atomic fluorescence spectrometry (HPLC-CVAFS) method. The focus of this work is mercury speciation in a variety of sample matrices to assess the versatility of the method. Certified reference materials were used where possible, and samples were spiked where reference materials were not available, e.g. human urine. Solid samples were submitted for commonly used digestion or extraction processes to obtain a liquid sample for injection into the analytical system. For MeHg in sediment samples, an extraction procedure was adapted to accommodate MeHg separation from high amounts of Hg2+ to avoid an overload of the column. The recovery for MeHg determination was found to be in the range of 88– 104 % in fish reference materials (DOLT-2, DOLT-4, DORM- 3), lobster (TORT-2), seaweed (IAEA-140/TM), sediments (ERM®-CC580) and spiked urine and has been proven to be robust, reliable, virtually matrix-independent and relatively cost-effective. Applications in the ultra-trace concentration range are possible using the preconcentration up to 200 mL, while for higher MeHg-containing samples, lower volumes can be applied. A comparison was carried out between species-specific isotope dilution gas chromatography inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (SSID-GC-ICPMS) as the gold standard and HPLC-CV-AFS for biological tissues (liver, kidney and muscle of pilot whales), showing a slope of 1.008 and R2=0.97, which indicates that the HPLCCV- AFS method achieves well-correlated results forMeHg in biological tissues.
- Mercury speciation
- Preconcentration HPLC-CV-AFS