American Chemical Society
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Transformation of Mercurous [Hg(I)] Species during Laboratory Standard Preparation and Analysis: Implication for Environmental Analysis

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-04-03, 13:05 authored by Yingying Fang, Guangliang Liu, Ying Wang, Yanwei Liu, Yongguang Yin, Yong Cai, Alexander M. Mebel, Guibin Jiang
Hg(I) may control Hg redox kinetics; however, its metastable nature hinders analysis. Herein, the stability of Hg(I) during standard preparation and analysis was studied. Gravimetric analysis showed that Hg(I) was stable in its stock solution (1000 mg L–1), yet completely disproportionated when its dilute solution (10 μg L–1) was analyzed using liquid chromatography (LC)-ICPMS. The Hg(I) dimer can form through an energetically favorable comproportionation between Hg(0) and Hg(II), as supported by density functional theory calculation and traced by the rapid isotope exchange between 199Hg(0)aq and 202Hg(II). However, the separation of Hg(0) and Hg(II) (e.g., LC process) triggered its further disproportionation. Polypropylene container, increasing headspace, decreasing pH, and increasing dissolved oxygen significantly enhanced the disproportionation or redox transformations of Hg(I). Thus, using a glass container without headspace and maintaining a slightly alkaline solution are recommended for the dilute Hg(I) stabilization. Notably, we detected elevated concentrations of Hg(I) (4.4–6.1 μg L–1) in creek waters from a heavily Hg-polluted area, accounting for 54–70% of total dissolved Hg. We also verified the reductive formation of Hg(I) in Hg(II)-spiked environmental water samples, where Hg(I) can stably exist in aquatic environments for at least 24 h, especially in seawater. These findings provide mechanistic insights into the transformation of Hg(I), which are indicative of its further environmental identification.