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Talanta. 2013 Dec 15;117:371-5. doi: 10.1016/j.talanta.2013.09.024. Epub 2013 Sep 25.

Determination of total mercury in biological tissue by isotope dilution ICPMS after UV photochemical vapor generation.

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Mineral Resources Chemistry Key Laboratory of Sichuan Higher Education Institutions, College of Materials and Chemistry & Chemical Engineering, Chengdu University of Technology, Chengdu 610059, China.


A method is developed for the determination of trace mercury in biological samples using photo chemical vapor generation (PVG) and isotope dilution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ID ICPMS) detection. Biological tissues were solubilized in formic acid. Subsequently, the sample solutions were exposed to an ultraviolet (UV) source for the reduction of mercury into vapor species prior to ICPMS measurements. The formic acid served not only as a tissue solubilizer in the sample preparation procedure, but also as a photochemical reductant for mercury in the PVG process. The problem arising from the opaque formic acid digested solution was efficiently solved by using ID method. The optimum conditions for sample treatment and PVG were investigated. A limit of detection (LOD) of 0.5 pg g(-1), based on an external calibration, provided 350-fold improvement over that obtained by utilizing conventional pneumatic nebulization sample introduction. Method validation was demonstrated by the determination of total mercury in several biological tissue certified reference materials (CRMs). The results were in good agreement with the certified values.


Biological samples; Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry; Isotope dilution; Mercury; Photo chemical vapor generation

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