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The Influence of Sample Drying Procedures on Mercury Concentrations Analyzed in Soils


Methods commonly used for soil sample preparation may be unsuitable for measuring Hg concentrations due to the possible loss of volatile Hg species when drying at higher temperatures. Here, the effects of freeze-drying, air drying at 25°C and oven-drying at 105°C on Hg concentrations in two soil types and three standard reference materials were tested. Two soils with different levels of Hg contamination and three reference materials were examined. A systematic decrease of Hg concentrations was observed in air-dried (24 %) and oven-dried (3 %) contaminated upland soils in comparison to freeze-dried control samples. The 105°C oven drying also led to loss of Hg from reference materials (5 %–8 % in comparison with the certified Hg concentration). Different results from the drying of sterilized reference materials and natural soils were probably related to the extent of microbiological activity, demonstrating the importance of this parameter in sample preparation for Hg analysis.

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This research was funded by the grant of the Czech Science Foundation GAČR, Nos. 526/09/P404, P210/11/1369 and by the Institute of Geology of ASCR, Project No. RVO 67958531. We thank Dr. Pavel Krám, Czech Geological Survey, for help with sampling. Dr. David Hardekopf for careful reading and corrections of the manuscript final version.

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Correspondence to Maria Hojdová.

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Hojdová, M., Rohovec, J., Chrastný, V. et al. The Influence of Sample Drying Procedures on Mercury Concentrations Analyzed in Soils. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 94, 570–576 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00128-015-1521-9

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  • Sample preparation
  • Drying procedures
  • Microbial activity
  • Freeze-drying
  • Contamination