University of Alberta

The Lab and Field Infrastructure

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The University of Alberta Low-Level Mercury Analytical Laboratory and Field Infrastructure:  
Our facility consists of an analytical Hg class 100 clean-room, surrounded by a semi-clean laboratory, in the Biological Sciences building on the University of Alberta campus. The clean room itself receives only Hepa-filtered air. The rate of filtered air input exceeds that drawn from the room via fume hoods, resulting in the clean room always having positive pressure. Admittance to the laboratory requires putting on clean room shoe-covers, and on special occasions when concentrations of Hg in samples are expected to be extremely low, full body Tyvek suits. The laboratory surrounding the clean room is kept in a semi-clean state, and is used for acid bathing, closed-vessel digestions, and other related activities that do not require stringent cleanliness. 
We currently have three Tekran cold vapor atomic fluorescence spectrometry (CVAFS) 2500 detectors and associated computers with Varian Star Chromatography Workstation integrators. Two of the detectors reside in the clean room dedicated to our MMHg and THg analytic protocols, while the third has been taken to the field to aid in measuring fluxes of Hg(0) from vegetation, soils, water and snow using specialized chambers developed in our laboratory. For MMHg analyses, we have machined, heated aluminum blocks that allow us to distill 25 samples and associated quality control checks per run. We currently have 4 bubblers for purging MMHg onto carbotraps, and one GC for separation of MMHg. For THg analyses, we have 60 Teflon digestion bombs and 8 bubblers for purging THg onto gold-coated bead traps. 
Essential supporting infrastructure in the laboratory includes a Millipore Elix 10 Milli-Q water purification system, a Labconco 12 freeze-dryer dedicated to sample preparation for Hg analyses, a custom U.V. digester for water samples with high organic content, a 50 L Teflon tub for hot (70oC) HNO3 washing of Teflon and glassware, a 30 L polypropylene tub for hot (40oC) HCl washing, and drying and microwave ovens for tissue and other digestions. We also are able to construct our own gold-coated bead traps. 
Our current inventory of infrastructure in place for field sampling includes 400 125 ml Teflon bottles, 400 250 ml Teflon bottles, and 70 2 L Teflon jars used for snow collection. In addition, we also own high-volume battery-operated field sampling pumps with Teflon heads for sampling water at depth in lakes. Teflon filtering apparatus has also been purchased to remove/collect particulates from water samples. 
We will receive in the near future more than $250,000 in Hg analytical infrastructure through a successful Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) major infrastructure grant, with matching funds coming from the Alberta Science and Research Investments Program (ASRIP), the University of Alberta, and industrial partners. This infrastructure includes a Tekran 2600 THg analysis system for the laboratory to automate our analytical protocol, and three Tekran Hg vapor analyzers to speciate Hg in air (Model 2573A total Hg vapor analyzer, Model 1130 Hg speciation unit for reactive gaseous Hg analysis, and a Model 1135 particulate Hg analyzer unit). These Hg vapor analyzers will allow us to determine different species of Hg in air, which is extremely important in quantifying rates of dry deposition of Hg to ecosystems. We also will acquire a micrometeorological flux tower system to have the capability to measure fluxes of Hg(0) over certain ecosystems. We will also receive two automated ISCO water samplers and two automated precipitation collectors for remote site monitoring.  
Last Modified: 2007-02-08