Facultade de Fisioterapia

Ultrasound-promoted cold vapor generation in the presence of formica acid for determination of mercury by atomic absorption spectrometry

Authors: S. Gil, Isela Lavilla, Carlos Bendicho

Journal: Analytical Chemistry, 78: 6260-6264, 09/2006

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1021/ac0606498


A new cold vapor technique within the context of green chemistry is described for determination of mercury in liquid samples following high-intensity ultrasonication. Volatile Hg evolved in a sonoreactor without the use of a chemical reducing agent is carried to a quartz cell kept at room temperature for measurement of the atomic absorption. The mechanism involved lies in the reduction of Hg(II) to Hg(0) by reducing gases formed upon sonication and subsequent volatilization of Hg(0) due to the degassing effect caused by the cavitation phenomenon. Addition of a low molecular weight organic acid such as formic acid favors the process, but vapor generation also occurs from Hg solutions in ultrapure water. The detection limit of Hg was 0.1 μg/L, and the repeatability, expressed as relative standard deviation, was 4.4% (peak height). Addition of small amounts of oxidizing substances such as the permanganate or dichromate anions completely suppressed the formation of Hg(0), which confirms the above mechanism. Effect of other factors such as ultrasound irradiation time, ultrasound amplitude, and the presence of concomitants are also investigated. Some complexing anions such as chloride favored the stabilization of Hg(II) in solution, hence causing an interference effect on the ultrasound-assisted reduction/volatilization process.