Performing EPA method 245.7 using the PSA Millennium Merlin 10.025 and 10.035 systems

Posted by: chrisball | Posted on: February 11th, 2012 | 0 Comments

Mercury is naturally present in aquatic systems in very low concentrations. Due to the long range atmospheric transport and deposition of anthropogenic mercury, elevated concentrations of mercury are found even in remote freshwater system although no direct local contamination sources are present. It is long recognised that mercury is one of the most hazardous toxicant to human and the environment. To protect people and the environment from the mercury, governments and regulatory agencies are introducing ever more stringent guidelines. As a result, analysts are challenged to achieve lower detection limits. The use of atomic fluorescence spectrometry for the determination of mercury was first reported by Thompson and Reynolds in 1971. Since then, several authors have described enhancements to the technique that reduced formal instrument detection limits (IDL) for the technique to the 1–10 ng/L range. Knox et al. reported on the use of atomic fluorescence for the determination of mercury with a detection limit of less than 1 ng/L. The USEPA has promulgated Methods 245.7 and 1631 for the determination of low level total mercury in water. The 245.7 method is based on vapor generation atomic fluorescence spectrometry (CV-AFS) without gold amalgamation whereas the 1631 method uses amalgamation to pre-concentrate mercury to provide lower detection limits. Method 245.7 can be performed using the PSA 10.025 or alternatively a PSA 10.035 can be used if the preconcentrator is bypassed.   Here we show how the PSA Millennium Merlin system meets the methodology, operation procedure, analytical sensitivity, and the quality control criteria for this method.

Mercury Analyzer - PSA Millennium Merlin

Figure 1           PSA 10.025/ 10.035 Millennium Merlin 1631 System

The Millennium Merlin system (Figure 1) is designed for routine use, which provides the full range of facilities required by researchers and method development chemists. The Millennium Merlin system offers standard modules that can be configured to meet current legislations. In addition to the EPA Methods 1631 and 245.7 the CV-AFS also complies to European Hg standards EN13506, EN12338 and EN17852.

Mercury Analyzer Flow Diagram

Figure 2        Schematic flow diagram of PSA 10.025/10.035 Millennium Merlin. Method 245.7 configuration is when pre-concentration is bypassed

Table 1         EPA Method 245.7

Method 245.7
Method of Detection

Continuous Flow CV-AFS

Sample Digestion

BrCl 0.5% in HCl 2.5%

Vapour Generation

SnCl2 2% in HCl 10%



Lowest Calibration Standard

5 ng/L

Method Detection Limit (MDL)

1.8 ng/L

Quantification Limit (ML)

5 ng/L

Method 245.7 has specified a detection limit of 1.8ng/L. With a Millennium Merlin system, a typical sensitivity of 0.2ng/L can be achieved. The method is shown in Table 1. Method 245.7 is also required to satisfy a formal quality assurance program which comprises the following requirements, at a minimum:

(a)         A calibration containing a minimum of 5 non-zero points, with 3 system blanks. The lowest calibration level must be lower than 5ng/L. The RSD of the calibration factors less than 15%. A recovery of 75-125% for the lowest point of the calibration.

(b)         Four replicates of initial precision and recovery solution (IPR, 10 ng/L), RSD<16%, recovery of 78-108%.

(c)         Matrix spike in duplicate, with a recovery of 63-111% and a relative percent difference (RPD) < 18.

(d)         An ongoing precision and recovery (OPR, 10 ng/L) solution must be analysed prior to and after each sample batch, with a recovery of 76-113%.

(e)         A quality control sample (QCS) prepared from a different source of Hg standard must be analysed as an independent check of the system performance.

(f)           A method detection limit (MDL) < 1.8 ng/L.

Mercury Analyzer EPA 245.7 Screen Shot

Figure 3           Method setting of Millennium Merlin system Performing Method 245.7

Mercury Analyzer Instrument Calibration

Figure 4           Calibration of Millennium Merlin System Performing EPA Method 245.7

EPA Method 245.7 allows the user to measure as many as 20 samples in each sample batch within QC standards. In each batch, a number of QC requirements must be met to demonstrate the initial capability of the laboratory. Each analytical sequence must include a calibration curve with a minimum of five, non-zero standards with the lowest concentration of 5 ng/L for Method 245.7. A typical calibration curve of Method 245.7 is shown in Figure 4, with the lowest calibration standard of 1ppt, which surpasses the EPA requirement.

The PSA 10.035 Millennium Merlin 1631 can easily and quickly be configured to the requirements of EPA Method 245.7 for measuring mercury in water. The instrument is ideally suited for this analysis as it not only meets all the requirements and QC tests for the method but also was better than required for accuracy, precision and method detection limit.

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