Direct mercury analysis for research and teaching

Direct mercury analysis for research and teaching

Lincoln University research laboratory performs trace metals analysis on a wide range of environmental and food samples. Mercury determination was a challenging task when working with ICP-based techniques and CVAA. DMA-80 evo simplifies mercury analysis and enabled Dr. Ikem’s group to conduct research that has appeared in several publications since 2004.
BACKGROUND
Before joining Lincoln University in 2003, Dr. Ikem held a postdoctoral research position at Tuskegee University, where he started using the DMA-80 for mercury determination on water, fish, and sediment samples from the nearby Tuskegee Lake. Dr. Ikem’s success with using direct mercury analysis at Tuskegee University was why he decided to incorporate the system at Lincoln University for his work in analyzing heavy metals contamination
IMPLEMENTATION
The ability to obtain mercury results without the traditional sample preparation process is critical when performing comprehensive studies involving different matrices. Such is the case of Dr. Ikem’s research, which has encompassed working with samples to characterize the presence of heavy metals in the environmental studies in the Missouri area as a result of agricultural activities. Food toxicology has also been the focus of his work, having performed research on the exposure of the population to heavy metals by analyzing mercury in canned fish, dietary supplements, infant formula, among other products. While some of the elements of interest do require extended sample digestion procedures, the DMA- 80 poses a unique advantage of a straight-forward operation that has allowed for an easy integration into several teaching courses at Lincoln University. Originally utilized in their graduate courses, direct mercury analysis is now also part of undergraduate 400-level courses where students have had the opportunity to actively participate in research and present their work at several national conferences in the US.
CONCLUSION
The flexibility that the Milestone DMA-80 system offers allows for the processing of large quantities of samples, obtaining results in just 5 minutes per sample. With a 40-position autosampler and no acid digestion requirement, the dedicated mercury solution has enhanced Dr. Ikem’s research and allowed his lab to avoid the memory effect challenges that traditional techniques pose. Researchers at Lincoln University report excellent recoveries and use standard reference materials for the different matrices they work with. In addition to the technical benefits, students have been able take advantage of the DMA-80 to develop their analytical instrumentation skills and easily integrate their knowledge of environmental sciences into practical research.

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