Mercury speciation in natural waters: measurement of dissolved gaseous mercury with a field analyzer

TitleMercury speciation in natural waters: measurement of dissolved gaseous mercury with a field analyzer
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsLindberg SE, Vette A.F, Miles C., Schaedlich F.

Mercury evasion from water is commonly modeled using measurements of dissolved gaseous mercury (DGM). We developed a method using a recently available automated field-ready mercury vapor analyzer to rapidly measure the concentrations of DGM in surface waters. We summarize here results of laboratory tests of the method, field intercomparisons with a manual method, and selected data from recent sampling campaigns in Florida and Michigan. The method uses the 1.5 lpm flow of a Tekran Model 2537A mercury analyzer to purge and analyze discrete water samples, generating near real time (5-min) data on DGM in samples and blanks. Application of the Tekran allowed for detailed analysis of DGM removal kinetics and short-term diel studies characterizing the influence of sunlight and precipitation on DGM production in surface waters. Gas removal kinetics for dozens of samples indicates a first-order rate constant, and supports a 20-min purge time for surface water samples from Florida (40-min for Michigan samples). Blanks are measured during a second such purge. Our results indicate that DGMs determined by both automated and manual methods are generally comparable, and that DGM in Florida samples is unstable during storage (loss rate constant ~0.1-0.2/h), probably due to oxidation. This suggests that rapid in-field analysis is preferred to storage with delayed analysis. Our data indicate that DGM at the Florida site is influenced by inputs of reactive Hg in rainwater, and by production of surface DGM during photoreduction of oxidized Hg in the water column.