A Novel Method for the Determination of Dissolved Methylmercury Concentrations Using Diffusive Gradients in Thin Films Technique

Yue Gao, Sam De Craemer, Willy Baeyens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A novel DGT probe and analysis protocol were developed for the determination of MeHg concentrations
in aquatic system. The DGT probe consisted of an agarose (AG) gel as the diffusive hydrogel and a
3-mercaptoproply functionalised silica resin gel as the resin gel. The polyacrylamide (PA) hydrogel which
is commonly used in DGT probes to assess trace metal concentrations in aquatic system appeared to be
unsuitable for the determination of MeHg. The affinity of the PA hydrogel for MeHg is very high reducing
its accumulation by the resin. In contrast, the AG hydrogel presents a by far lower affinity towards MeHg,
which makes it suitable as diffusive layer in a DGT probe for MeHg determinations. Two extraction
procedures to liberate MeHg from the resin were studied: one is involving thiourea as complexing agent,
the other a simple acidic extraction. The extraction step was followed by an ethylation reaction of the
liberated MeHg to determine low concentrations of MeHg species by Headspace-Gas Chromatography-
Atomic Fluorescence (HS-GC-AFS). With the thiourea extraction method the recovery of the adsorbed
MeHg compounds was extremely low while the recovery with the acid extraction method was 100%.
The reliability of the novel DGT probe and analysis protocol was studied. A linear dependency
between the amount of MeHg accumulated on the resin gel and both the deployment time and the gel
thickness were demonstrated. From those experiments a diffusion coefficient of MeHg in AG gel was
determined: 5.170.20106 cm2 s1. Additional experiments showed that the new DGT method can
be used in most natural waters independent of the ionic strength and within a pH range of 3-8.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)470-474
Number of pages5
JournalTalanta
Volume120
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • DGT
  • Agarose gel
  • 3-Mercaptoproply functionalised silica resin gel
  • Acid extraction

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