Mercury Standards for ICP Applications

Coal- and oil-fired power plants are responsible for an inordinate amount of the toxic pollutants present in our atmosphere. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), they can generate mercury emissions exceeding 53 tonnes per year, representing 50% of all mercury air pollution in the country. Mercury and air toxins are extremely damaging to human health and to our environment, hence the importance of the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS) rule implemented by the EPA. But stricter regulations on pollution control must be accompanied by improvements to standardised environmental screening and analysis.

NIST-traceable mercury standards fit the bill when it comes to inorganic trace analysis of pollutants via inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES).

Using Mercury Standards in Trace Elemental Analysis

ICP-AES is a powerful tool for trace-level elemental analysis that has only been implemented for environmental monitoring and pollution control studies relatively recently. It works by ionising analytes in suspension using a high-energy plasma torch and acquiring the characteristic, atomic emission spectrum using an integrated spectroscopy detector. This enables the direct determination of trace mercury at >0.005 parts per million (ppm).

Mercury standards are used as a reference material for trace level determination of mercury in various matrices via ICP-AES. This is a crucial step in the air and water pollution analysis workflow as there are stability issues with mercury-containing solutions which threaten the veracity of results. Mercury standards stored in LDPE (5 µg/mL Hg standards in 5% nitric acid), for instance, will deplete over time losing up to 1 µg/mL in typical storage conditions. Calibrating instruments using a mercury standard like this will lead to a wide and unpredictable margin of error, plus poor repeatability. As mercury determinations by ICP-AES are of enormous commercial, environmental, and ethical importance, such a level of uncertainty is unacceptable.

Fully NIST-traceable mercury standards account for the characteristic instability of mercury, ensuring total confidence in your results. One specific solution is to store 5% nitric acid mercury standards in borosilicate glass, with concentrations of 0.05 – 1000 µg/mL showing high stability at room temperature storage for up to a year with little-to-no mercury reduction.

Trustworthy mercury standards can unlock the highest sensitivities and superior detection limits of your analytical setup. This will prove invaluable as power plants look to dramatically reduce their mercury output in-line with changing MATS standards.

Mercury Standards from Inorganic Ventures

At Inorganic Ventures, we have developed a comprehensive range of ICP standards based on single- and multi-element compositions. We offer our mercury standards in a choice of highly stable formats, typically in concentrations of 100 ppb in nitric or hydrochloric acid.

Contact us today if you would like to place an order for high quality, high stability mercury standards, or if you need a custom solution for your analytical calibration needs. 



References: EPA

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