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Ultrasensitive Speciation Analysis of Mercury in Rice by Headspace Solid Phase Microextraction Using Porous Carbons and Gas Chromatography-Dielectric Barrier Discharge Optical Emission Spectrometry

Lin, Yao, Yang, Yuan, Li, Yuxuan, Yang, Lu, Hou, Xiandeng, Feng, Xinbin, Zheng, Chengbin
Environmental Science & Technology 2016 v.50 no.5 pp. 2468-2476
cost effectiveness, detection limit, developing countries, fumigants, gas chromatography, headspace analysis, humans, mercury, methyl iodide, methylation, methylmercury compounds, mining, rice, soil, solar radiation, solid phase microextraction, spectroscopy, statistical analysis, Asia
Rice consumption is a primary pathway for human methylmercury (MeHg) exposure in inland mercury mining areas of Asia. In addition, the use of iodomethane, a common fumigant that significantly accelerates the methylation of mercury in soil under sunlight, could increase the MeHg exposure from rice. Conventional hyphenated techniques used for mercury speciation analysis are usually too costly for most developing countries. Consequently, there is an increased interest in the development of sensitive and inexpensive methods for the speciation of mercury in rice. In this work, gas chromatography (GC) coupled to dielectric barrier discharge optical emission spectrometry (DBD-OES) was developed for the speciation analysis of mercury in rice. Prior to GC-DBD-OES analysis, mercury species were derivatized to their volatile species with NaBPh₄ and preconcentrated by headspace solid phase microextraction using porous carbons. Limits of detection of 0.5 μg kg–¹ (0.16 ng), 0.75 μg kg–¹ (0.24 ng), and 1.0 μg kg–¹ (0.34 ng) were obtained for Hg²⁺, CH₃Hg⁺, and CH₃CH₂Hg⁺, respectively, with relative standard deviations (RSDs) better than 5.2% and 6.8% for one fiber or fiber-to-fiber mode, respectively. Recoveries of 90–105% were obtained for the rice samples, demonstrating the applicability of the proposed technique. Owing to the small size, low power, and low gas consumption of DBD-OES as well as efficient extraction of mercury species by porous carbons headspace solid phase micro-extraction, the proposed technique provides several advantages including compactness, cost-effectiveness, and potential to couple with miniature GC to accomplish the field speciation of mercury in rice compared to conventional hyphenated techniques.