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Issue 9, 2015
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ICP-MS/MS as a tool to study abiotic methylation of inorganic mercury reacting with VOCs

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Abstract

Methylmercury (CH3Hg) is one of the most widespread toxic contaminants. Although the formation of CH3Hg in aqueous environments has been widely investigated, little information is available on direct anthropogenic or natural emissions of CH3Hg to the atmosphere. In this work, ICP-MS/MS was chosen as a tool to study abiotic methylation of inorganic mercury reacting with VOCs in a gas environment for the first time. We found that the gaseous Hg+ ions were transformed to the more toxic CH3Hg+ ions instantaneously when colliding with some VOCs. Several VOCs, e.g., methyl iodide (CH3I), methylbenzene, acetic acid and ethyl acetate, exhibited good methylation of Hg+ ions with productivities of 1.77%, 1.28%, 1.35% and 1.18%, respectively. Four isotope peaks of CH3199Hg (M = 214), CH3200Hg (M = 215), CH3201Hg (M = 216) and CH3202Hg (M = 217) were identified when Hg+ ions collided with CH3I, and the methyl group in CH3Hg+ was validated by the source of CD3I, indicating that CH3Hg+ ions were formed. This study reveals that the abiotic methylation of Hg+ ions could occur when in contact with the VOCs in the atmosphere, leading to secondary environmental pollution.

Graphical abstract: ICP-MS/MS as a tool to study abiotic methylation of inorganic mercury reacting with VOCs

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Publication details

The article was received on 30 Jun 2015, accepted on 03 Aug 2015, published on 11 Aug 2015 and first published online on 11 Aug 2015


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C5JA00245A
Citation: J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2015,30, 1997-2002
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    ICP-MS/MS as a tool to study abiotic methylation of inorganic mercury reacting with VOCs

    Q. He, Z. Xing, S. Zhang and X. Zhang, J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2015, 30, 1997
    DOI: 10.1039/C5JA00245A

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