ABSTRACT

Cold Vapor Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (CVAAS) was used to detect potential mercury contamination in sixteen natural waterways in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Four samples were collected from each site in mercury-free Nalgene containers. After collection, the samples were brought back to the lab, acidified, and refrigerated until analysis could proceed. For analysis, each sample was prepared by adding various reagents and by digesting each in a 95°C water bath for approximately two hours. The digested samples were analyzed using tin (II) chloride and the maximum absorbance of each sample was recorded. Calibration curves were developed using serial dilutions of the mercury standard; these curves allowed for calculation of detection limits for mercury and were also used to calculate the mercury concentration in the samples if any was present. The results showed that none of the waterways tested had significant amounts of mercury present.

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