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Mercury, Low Level Mercury and Methyl Mercury Analysis | Eurofins TestAmerica

Mercury, Low Level Mercury and Methyl Mercury Analysis

How Can Eurofins TestAmerica Help You?

Mercury is naturally occurring in the environment.  Mercury can be found in soil and can be introduced into the environment from volcanic eruptions as well as emissions from the ocean. Anthropogenic emissions can include release from fuels or raw material or industrial processes or products. These processes can include artisanal and small-scale gold mining, coal combustion, non-ferrous metal production, cement production, ferrous metal production as well as from other mercury added products.  These product sources can include electrical batteries and semi-conductors, medical appliances e.g. sphygmomanometers and older thermometers, dentistry in the form of mercury amalgams, barometers, fluorescent light bulbs as well as other sources. Waste disposal can also introduce mercury into the environment.

Identifying low level concentrations or the concentration of methyl mercury present in the environment can be a specific concern in an environmental project.  Eurofins TestAmerica offers mercury analysis in a wide variety of environmental matrices to support a variety of project needs.

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Mercury, Low Level Mercury and Methyl Mercury Analysis

Eurofins TestAmerica has more than three decades of experience analyzing samples for mercury, and offers multiple methods to ensure we support the reporting limits required for your project. Eurofins TestAmerica has extensive experience working on high profile sites with mercury as a constituent of potential concern. Leveraging this experience, our specialists will design a plan to meet your specific goals and ensure you receive the legally defensible data you need.

We support mercury analysis in the following environmental matrices:

  • Groundwater
  • Surface water
  • Pore water
  • Elutriates
  • Eluates/Leachates
  • Soil
  • Sediment
  • Tissue

Total Mercury Analysis (EPA SW-846 Method 7471/7470)

Total mercury analysis is the most routine mercury testing procedure performed. Utilizing Cold Vapor Atomic Absorption (CVAA) technology, total mercury analysis is suitable for a variety of matrices including waters, soils, sediments and wastes. This cost effective and accurate method is suitable for many applications including commercial, industrial and permit-driven sampling events.

Dedicated instrumentation, along with 24 certified laboratories within our network, ensures available capacity for standard and expedited turnaround time offerings, meeting the needs of all projects.

Matrix Methods  Reporting Limits
Water EPA SW-846 Method 7470, EPA 254.1 0.2 ug/L

Soil / Sediment

EPA SW-846 Method 7471 20 ug/kg

Tissue

EPA SW-846 Method 7471 20 ug/kg
Waste EPA SW-846 Method 7471 20 ug/kg

Mercury, Low Level (EPA Method 1631, AFS)

Eurofins TestAmerica developed a Low Level Mercury Analysis following EPA Method 1631 in 2002. This cold vapor atomic fluorescence spectroscopy (CVAFS) analytical technique was designed by the EPA to address the need to measure mercury at water quality criteria levels. These levels can be more than 250 times lower than the levels achievable by traditional total mercury analyses.

This method also requires the laboratory to provide detailed sample collection and sampling handling instructions and materials to appropriately collect the samples and prevent contamination from field activities. Eurofins TestAmerica added the additional capabilities to support this method in soil, sediment and tissue analysis as well.    

Matrix Methods Reporting Limits
Water EPA Method 1613E 0.5 ng/L
Soil / Sediment EPA Method 1613E 1 ug/Kg
Tissue EPA Method 1613E 1 ug/Kg

Mercury, Methyl (EPA Method 1630)

Eurofins TestAmerica developed the capability to support Methyl Mercury by EPA Method 1630 analysis in a wide variety of matrices including sediment, surface water and tissue samples. Eurofins TestAmerica identified issues associated with matrix interferences for the method in the analysis of brackish waters. The laboratories investigated and implemented an alternative USGS method preparation procedure for this matrix. Due to the matrix interference issues for tissue samples, Eurofins TestAmerica also uses the Florida DEP sample preparation procedure for tissue samples. 

Matrix Methods Reporting Limits
Water EPA Method 1630  0.05 ng/L
Soil / Sediment EPA Method 1630 0.1 ug/kg
Tissue EPA Method 1630 0.1 ug/kg

Mercury Analysis in Tissue

Mercury can bioaccumulate within the aquatic, estuarine and marine food chain, necessitating the analysis of tissues such as macro-invertebrates, worms, clams,  amphibians, shellfish, fish, birds, and vegetation. Accurate quantification of mercury levels in tissue samples aids in risk calculations, fate and transport studies, and in establishing fish consumption advisory warnings.

  • Specialized handling and preparatory procedures including dissection of tissues, homogenization and moisture determination.
  • The ability to support analysis with limited tissue mass availability.

Reporting limits might be elevated when sample mass is very small. Also, some non-target sample components can produce interferences that elevate Reporting Limits. This is unusual for total mercury analysis, but occasional for methyl mercury analysis.

Sampling consideration in collecting representative samples for Low Level Mercury and Methyl Mercury Analysis

In developing methods for the determination of metals at trace levels, EPA found that one of the greatest difficulties was mitigating the potential for sample contamination during the collection, transport, and analysis of samples. As such, EPA Method 1669 was developed to apply stringent guidelines to limit contamination throughout the sampling and analytical process, and is recommended when sampling for EPA Method 1631E and EPA Method 1630.  To access EPA Method 1669, please click here

EPA Method 1669 employs the “clean hands, dirty hands” technique in which a team of two samplers’ works together to prevent the introduction of trace level contaminants into the sample. In the photo below, the sampler wearing blue gloves takes the role of “dirty hands,” touching the outer packaging and sampling equipment. The “clean hands” sampler, wearing white gloves, handles the containers and restricts contact with all other materials. Eurofins TestAmerica’s low level mercury bottle kits have been specifically designed to aid in this process and reduce contamination through the sampling, shipping and receiving process.

Please reach out to us at the Contact Us tab for More Information, Ask our Experts or Request a Quote.