A solvent-free, easy, fast and waste-free methodology was developed for the determination of total mercury levels in hair and nails. Samples were taken from several volunteers and directly analysed, with levels of mercury in the range between 0.5 and 8 ng/mg. The influence of quantity of hair, as well as the addition of small amount of solvent and the necessity of previous treatment were studied. Also, a history of mercury exposure was provided by the distance of the hair from the scalp of each volunteer, the results of which were correlated with fish consumption. Furthermore, a short study of mercury in nails was carried out and correlated to the results from hair mercury levels. A small quantity of 5 mg of hair with an addition of 50 μL of water to the sample without previous treatment was adequate to get a representative result in less than 10 minutes. The accuracy of the proposed method was confirmed by analysing certified reference materials including Coal Fly Ash-NIST SRM 1633b, Fucus-IAEA 140 and three unpolished Rice Flour NIES-10. The observed results were found to be in good agreement with the certified values.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.