Mercury is a naturally occurring element, found in soil, water and air, that is highly toxic to humans and wildlife, with its presence posing a serious health risk. It is commonly found in the soil of brownfield sites, in both elemental and speciated forms. These species include methylmercury, the most dangerous chemical form, and inorganic mercury compounds, which can be produced as a consequence of industrial processes. With different forms of mercury posing increased risk to health, the determination of speciated mercury can help in assessing the level of risk on brownfield sites.
Mercury Testing Expertise
SOCOTEC’s technical experts measure levels of speciated mercury present in soil samples using a microwave extraction process, followed by analysis using high performance liquid chromatography and cold vapour atomic fluorescence (HPLC-CVAFS).
As part of SOCOTEC’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 to understand if the ground of their site meets the Government’s Soil Guideline Values (SGVs), which outlines the safe levels of chemicals that can be present in the soil before construction can begin.
SOCOTEC’s speciated mercury testing is carried out in accordance with the Environmental Agency’s Soil Guideline Values for mercury in soil document - Science Report SC050021 / Mercury SGV. The report details uses and toxicology of mercury, as well as stating that analysis should be performed to provide values for three forms of mercury - elemental, organic, and inorganic.
Providing Vital Information on Mercury
Speciated mercury analysis can provide vital information for developers of former industrial sites, alongside ESG’s other contaminated land testing services, which include:
SOCOTEC’s cutting edge laboratory equipment and methodologies can ensure that highly accurate readings of inorganic and methylmercury compound levels can be provided to aid with any ongoing remediation works.
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