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The present and potential future of aqueous mercury preservation: a review

King, David C. P. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8881-9154, Watts, Michael J. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0379-8401, Hamilton, Elliott M. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9437-5238, Mortimer, Robert ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1292-8861, Kilgour, David P. A. and Di Bonito, Marcello (2023) The present and potential future of aqueous mercury preservation: a review. Environmental Sciences: Processes and Impacts, 25 (3). pp. 351-363.

10.11648.j.ijls.20230601.19.pdf - Accepted Version

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20230116 Literature Review (TC) ESPaI resubmission.docx - Accepted Version


Mercury is considered to be one of the most toxic elements to humans. Due to pollution from industry and artisanal gold mining, mercury species are present globally in waters used for agriculture, aquaculture, and drinking water. This review summarises methods reported for preserving mercury species in water samples and highlights the associated hazards and issues with each. This includes the handling of acids in an uncontrolled environment, breakage of sample containers, and the collection and transport of sample volumes in excess of 1 L, all of which pose difficulties for both in situ collection and transportation. Literature related to aqueous mercury preservation from 2000–2021 was reviewed, as well as any commonly cited and relevant references. Amongst others, solid-phase extraction techniques were explored for preservation and preconcentration of total and speciated mercury in water samples. Additionally, the potential as a safe, in situ preservation and storage method for mercury species were summarised. The review highlighted that the stability of mercury is increased when adsorbed on a solid-phase and therefore the metal and its species can be preserved without the need for hazardous reagents or materials in the field. The mercury species can then be eluted upon return to a laboratory, where sensitive analytical detection and speciation methods can be better applied. Developments in solid phase extraction as a preservation method for unstable metals such as mercury will improve the quality of representative environmental data, and further improve toxicology and environmental monitoring studies.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1039/d2em00409g
School/Department: School of Science, Technology and Health
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/7388

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