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Screening for Mercury in Aqueous Environmental Samples and Urine Samples Using Thin Layer Chromatography

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A method for screening based on thin layer chromatography (TLC) comprising silica gel ‘G’ as a stationary phase and benzene as a mobile phase was found to be most suitable for the detection of mercury in aqueous samples and spiked human urine, without digesting the samples. A broad range for the detection of mercury, from 20 μg/L (20 ppb) to 1000 mg/L (1000 ppm), was established, by optimizing the experimental conditions. In urine samples, mercury could be detected also, at levels as low as 50 μg/L (50 ppb) or above. Mercury was detected by complexation with dithizone followed by TLC, also in the presence of other heavy metals, including arsenic, cadmium, lead, copper, iron, zinc, and nickel. The method is simple, cheap, and has no interference of the matrix present in the natural water and aqueous industrial effluent samples obtained from the field. Further, no sophisticated instrument is needed for the detection of mercury.
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Keywords: aqueous samples; dithizone; mercury; thin layer chromatography; urine sample

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 November 2007

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    Water Environment Research (WER) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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