Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is highly toxic to humans. It is commonly found in the soil of brownfield sites, in both elemental and speciated forms. These species include methylmercury and inorganic mercury compounds, which can be produced as a consequence of industrial processes such as the burning of coal.
Levels of speciated mercury present in soil samples are measured using a microwave extraction process followed by analysis using high performance liquid chromatography and cold vapour atomic fluorescence (HPLC-CVAFS).
As part of ESG’s contaminated land testing suite, speciated mercury analysis will benefit developers of commercial and residential property on brownfield sites in the UK. Testing can help developers understand if the ground of their sites meet the Government’s Soil Guideline Values (SGVs), which outline the safe levels of chemicals that can be present in the soil before construction can begin.
Becky Batham, specialist chemistry laboratory manager, Energy & Waste Services, ESG, said: “Mercury and its associated compounds are extremely toxic to both humans and wildlife, and its presence in soil poses a serious health risk. The toxicity of mercury depends on its chemical form, with methylmercury being the most dangerous.
“Alongside other contaminated land testing services, speciated mercury analysis can provide vital information for developers of former industrial sites. ESG’s cutting edge laboratory techniques can ensure that highly accurate readings of inorganic and methylmercury compound levels can be provided to aid with any ongoing remediation works.”