Atomic-absorption determination of mercury in geological materials by flame and carbon-rod atomisation after solvent extraction and using co-extracted silver as a matrix modifier
Based on modifications and expansion of the original Tindall's solvent extraction flame atomic-absorption procedure, an atomic-absorption spectrophotometric method has been developed for the determination of mercury in geological materials. The sample is digested with nitric and hydrochloric acids in a boiling water-bath. The solution is made ammoniacal and potassium iodide and silver nitrate are added. The mercury is extracted into isobutyl methyl ketone as the tetraiodomercurate(II). Added silver is co-extracted with mercury and serves as a matrix modifier in the carbon-rod atomiser. The mercury in the isobutyl methyl ketone extract may be determined by either the flame- or the carbon-rod atomisation method, depending on the concentration level. The limits of determination are 0.05–10 p.p.m. of mercury for the carbon-rod atomisation and 1–200 p.p.m. of mercury for the flame atomisation.
Mercury values for reference samples obtained by replicate analyses are in good agreement with those reported by other workers, with relative standard deviations ranging from 2.3 to 6.9%. Recoveries of mercury spiked at two levels were 93–106%. Major and trace elements commonly found in geological materials do not interfere.