Journal of separation science

Speciation analysis of mercury in sediments using ionic-liquid-based vortex-assisted liquid-liquid microextraction combined with high-performance liquid chromatography and cold vapor atomic fluorescence spectrometry.

PMID 25998155


An improved novel method based on ionic liquid vortex-assisted liquid-liquid microextraction has been developed for the extraction of methylmercury, ethylmercury and inorganic mercury in sediment samples prior to analysis by high-performance liquid chromatography with cold vapor atomic fluorescence spectrometry. In this work, mercury species were firstly complexed with dithizone, and the complexes were extracted into 1-hexyl-3-methylimidazolium hexafluorophosphate. Key factors that affect the extraction efficiency of mercury species, such as type and amount of ionic liquid and chelatants, extraction time, sample pH, salt effect and matrix effect were investigated. Under the optimum conditions, linearity was found in the concentration range from 0.1-70 ng/g. Limits of detection ranged from 0.037-0.061 ng/g. Reproducibility and recoveries were assessed by extracting a series of six independent sediment samples that were spiked with different concentration levels. Finally, the proposed method was successfully applied in analysis of real sediment samples. In this work, ionic liquids vortex-assisted liquid-liquid microextraction was for the first time used for the extraction of mercury species in sediment samples. The proposed method was proved to be much simpler and more rapid, as well as more environmentally friendly and efficient compared with the previous methods.