Determining Elemental Mercury in Soils by Selective Volatilization

Metals and Metals Speciation Analysis in Environmental Samples
Oral Presentation

Prepared by A. Carter, S. Springer
Brooks Applied Labs, 18804 North Creek Parkway, Suite 100, Bothell, Washington, 98011, United States

Contact Information: [email protected]; 206-632-6206


Remediation of mercury contaminated soils is an important area of focus. Mercury can be present in a soil in a variety of forms with a range of bioaccessibility ranging from volatile to tightly bound. One common difficulty encountered in mercury remediation efforts is poor characterization of the molecular or elemental forms of the mercury at the site. The species of mercury present at a site will dictate the remediation needs. Currently it is difficult to separate mercury species when evaluating a contaminated site, as most extraction protocols alter the speciation of the mercury present. Elemental mercury is a common industrial contaminant and is of additional concern because of its mobility and regulatory requirements.
In this presentation a method for selective volatilization of elemental mercury will be discussed. By carefully controlling the temperature it is possible to selectively volatilize elemental mercury from solid matrices. Volatilizing mercury in this way allows for a more accurate understanding of the elemental mercury content in contaminated soils. The validation study shows that elemental mercury can reproducibly be removed from a reference material and that this process is also selective against other common mercury species found in soils and sediments. Finally, the robustness of the method will be examined in terms of sample types and conditions that can be tolerated.