Determination of mercury(II) in water at sub-nanomolar levels by laser ablation-ICPMS analysis of screen printed electrodes used as a portable voltammetric preconcentration system
Environmental pollution by mercury in ambient water samples is a recognized problem worldwide. Sample preservation and transport to the laboratory lead to uncertain analytical results. This study outlines the development of a procedure for on-site electrodeposition of mercury from water samples on a screen-printed gold electrode (SPGE) using portable voltammetric techniques. Once in the laboratory, Hg is analyzed by laser ablation inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS) in order to ensure that the required sensitivity and precision levels for environmental sample analysis are reached. A new ablation chamber was intentionally designed for the analysis of SPGE's gold electrode. This cell has a small internal volume of 15 cm3 and the SPGE device perfectly fits inside. This design assures signal stability, avoids elemental fractionation and reduces wash-out time to a few seconds, reducing the analysis time considerably. The proposed method is capable of measuring dissolved mercury at the ng L−1 level (quantification limit 200 ng L−1) with good precision (RSD < 7.6%). The proposed method was tested with the NCS ZC 76303 (NIM-GBW08603) Mercury in water Certified Reference Material.