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ERIC Number: EJ923701
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Feb
Pages: 7
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 16
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
Mercury in Environmental and Biological Samples Using Online Combustion with Sequential Atomic Absorption and Fluorescence Measurements: A Direct Comparison of Two Fundamental Techniques in Spectrometry
Cizdziel, James V.
Journal of Chemical Education, v88 n2 p209-215 Feb 2011
In this laboratory experiment, students quantitatively determine the concentration of an element (mercury) in an environmental or biological sample while comparing and contrasting the fundamental techniques of atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS) and atomic fluorescence spectrometry (AFS). A mercury analyzer based on sample combustion, concentration of mercury by gold amalgamation, and AAS is coupled to a mercury-specific AFS system, allowing for the same sample to be carried through the two systems. This provides a direct and accurate comparison between the methods that is readily understandable by students. By calculating figures of merit for each technique, including the method detection limit, sensitivity, dynamic range, precision, and accuracy, students gain a better understanding of each quantity, and how they can be used to compare instruments and select the most suitable method under particular circumstances. Following an inquiry-based pedagogy, students determine mercury levels in solid samples (e.g., soil, leaves, fish, hair, tobacco, etc.) that they choose, collect, and analyze directly, without time-consuming and potentially hazardous hot-acid digestions. Overall, the lab promotes critical thinking about performance characteristics of different instruments and environmental analyses and is suitable for an instrumental analysis or environmental chemistry course. (Contains 7 notes, 2 tables, and 7 figures.)
Division of Chemical Education, Inc and ACS Publications Division of the American Chemical Society. 1155 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-227-5558; Tel: 202-872-4600; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A