Determination of MeHg in Environmental Sample Matrices Using Hg-Thiourea Complex Ion Chromatography with On-line Cold Vapor Generation and Atomic Fluorescence Spectrometric Detection

Environmental mercury chemistry is highly complex and difficult to elucidate, not least because Hg occurs in multiple forms at trace levels. To quantify these forms of Hg, sensitive and selective methods for Hg speciation analysis in various environmental matrices have been developed over the last two decades, propelling a remarkable growth in our understanding of Hg biogeochemistry. In aquatic systems, two major findingssthat monomethylmercury (MeHg) is the only form of mercury that biomagnifies in aquatic food webs (1) and that the MeHg levels in different aquatic systems are not directly proportional to their respective total Hg (HgT) burdens (2)shave helped raise the determination of MeHg levels in water, sediments, and aquatic biota to a prominence in environmental management comparable to that of source identification. Consequently, Hg speciation analysis has become an essential tool for assessing the ecotoxicological and human health impacts of Hg contamination of watersheds and aquatic systems.

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