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Journal of Automatic Chemistry
Volume 17, Issue 2, Pages 65-71

Atomic fluorescence determination of mercury in fresh water ecosystems

Washington State Department of Ecology, 7411 Beach Drive, Port Orchard, Washington 98366-8204, USA

Copyright © 1995 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper reports on an investigation into determining nanogram/l quantities of mercury in marine and fresh water matrices using a cold vapour generation of mercury, followed by fluorescence detection. Samples were prepared for analysis using a free bromine oxidation technique. A high efficiency gas-liquid separator was used to enhance the detection of mercury. For fresh water, typical method detection limits (MDL) were determined at less than 1 nanogram/l (ng/l). For near shore seawater, the MDL was 1.2 ng/l. Method spikes, which were performed at 20 ng/l, showed mean recoveries within US EPA Contract Laboratory Protocol (CLP) acceptance criteria. System blanks averaged 0.12 ng/l, and recoveries of NIST 1641c diluted to 29.4 ng/l averaged 93.4%. A number of local rivers and streams were sampled, and mercury was determined. All results to date indicate mercury levels below the US EPA chronic water quality criteria for mercury.