A very simple and rapid method for the determination of total mercury in fish samples using the Direct Mercury Analyser DMA-80 was developed. In this system, a previously weighted portion of fresh fish is combusted and the released mercury is selectively trapped in a gold amalgamator.
Upon heating, mercury is desorbed from the amalgamator, an atomic absorption measurement is performed and the mercury concentration is calculated. Some experimental parameters have been studied and optimised. In this study the sample mass was about 100.0 mg. The relative standard deviation
was lower than 8.0% for all measurements of solid samples. Two calibration curves against aqueous standard solutions were prepared through the low linear range from 2.5 to 20.0 ng of Hg, and the high linear range from 25.0 to 200.0 ng of Hg, for which a correlation coefficient
better than 0.997 was achieved, as well as a normal distribution of the residuals. Mercury reference solutions were prepared in 5.0% v/v nitric acid medium. Lyophilised fish tissues were also analysed; however, the additional procedure had no advantage over the direct analysis of the fresh
fish, and additionally increased the total analytical process time. A fish tissue reference material, IAEA-407, was analysed and the mercury concentration was in agreement with the certified value, according to the t-test at a 95% confidence level. The limit of quantification (LOQ),
based on a mercury-free sample, was 3.0 µg kg−1. This LOQ is in accordance with performance criteria required by the Commission Regulation No. 333/2007. Simplicity and high efficiency, without the need for any sample preparation procedure, are some of the
qualities of the proposed method.
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