A New Method for Accurate Signal Processing in Measurements of Elemental Mercury Vapor by Atomic Fluorescence Spectrophotometry
Thursday, 17 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
The most widely used method for quantifying atmospheric Hg is gold amalgamation pre-concentration, followed by thermal desorption (TD) and detection via atomic fluorescence spectrophotometry (AFS). Most AFS-based atmospheric Hg measurements are carried out using commercial analyzers manufactured by Tekran® Instruments Corp. (instrument models 2537A and 2537B). A generally overlooked and poorly characterized source of analytical uncertainty in these measurements is the method by which the raw Hg AFS signal is processed. In nearly all applications of Tekran® analyzers for atmospheric Hg measurements, researchers rely upon embedded software which automatically integrates the Hg TD peaks. However, Swartzendruber et al. (2009; doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2009.02.063) demonstrated that the Hg TD peaks can be more accurately defined, and overall measurement precision increased, by post-processing the raw Hg AFS signal; improvements in measurement accuracy and precision were shown to be more significant at lower sample loadings. Despite these findings, a standardized method for signal post-processing has not been presented. To better characterize uncertainty associated with Tekran® based atmospheric Hg measurements, and to facilitate more widespread adoption of an accurate, standardized signal processing method, we developed a new, distributable Virtual Instrument (VI) which performs semi-automated post-processing of the raw Hg AFS signal from the Tekran® analyzers. Here we describe the key features of the VI and compare its performance to that of the Tekran® signal processing method.