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Talanta. 2012 Sep 15;99:1040-5. doi: 10.1016/j.talanta.2012.05.055. Epub 2012 Jun 4.

Automated on-line preconcentration of trace aqueous mercury with gold trap focusing for cold vapor atomic absorption spectrometry.

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Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University, Payathai Road, Bangkok 10330, Thailand.


A fully automated system for the determination of trace mercury in water by cold vapor atomic absorption spectrometry (CVAAS) is reported. The system uses preconcentration on a novel sorbent followed by liberation of the mercury and focusing by a gold trap. Mercury ions were extracted from water samples by passage through a solid phase sorbent column containing 2-(3-(2-aminoethylthio)propylthio)ethanamine modified silica gel. The captured mercury is released by thiourea and then elemental Hg is liberated by sodium borohydride. The vapor phase Hg is recaptured on a gold-plated tungsten filament. This is liberated as a sharp pulse (half-width<2 s) by directly electrically heating the tungsten filament in a dry argon stream. The mercury is measured by CVAAS; no moisture removal is needed. The effects of chloride and selected interfering ions were studied. The sample loading flow rate and argon flow rates for solution purging and filament sweeping were optimized. An overall 50-fold improvement in the limit of detection was observed relative to direct measurement by CVAAS. With a relatively modest multi-user instrument we attained a limit of detection of 35 ng L(-1) with 12% RSD at 0.20 μg L(-1) Hg level. The method was successfully applied to accurately determine sub-μg L(-1) level Hg in standard reference water samples.

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