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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2018-127
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 27 Jun 2018

Research article | 27 Jun 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

Evaluation of cation exchange membrane performance under exposure to high Hg0 and HgBr2 concentrations

Matthieu B. Miller1, Mae S. Gustin2, Sarrah M. Dunham-Cheatham2, and Grant C. Edwards1 Matthieu B. Miller et al.
  • 1Faculty of Science and Engineering, Department of Environmental Science, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, 2113, Australia
  • 2Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science, University of Nevada, Reno NV, 89557, USA

Abstract. Reactive mercury (RM) is an important component of the global atmospheric mercury cycle, but measurement currently depends on un-calibrated, operationally defined methods with large uncertainty and demonstrated interferences and artifacts. Cation exchange membranes (CEM) provide a promising alternative methodology for quantification of RM, but method validation and improvement are ongoing. For the CEM material to be reliable, uptake of gaseous elemental mercury (GEM) must be negligible for all conditions, and RM compounds must be captured and retained with high efficiency. In this study the performance of CEM material under exposure to high concentrations of GEM (1.43×106–1.85×106pgm−3) and reactive gaseous mercury bromide (HgBr2~5000pgm−3) was explored, using a custom-built mercury vapor permeation system, with quantification of total permeated Hg accomplished via pyrolysis at 600°C and detection using a Tekran® 2537A. Permeation tests were conducted for 24 to 72 hours in clean laboratory air, with absolute humidity levels ranging from 0.1–10gm−3 water vapor. Gaseous elemental mercury uptake by the CEM material averaged no more than 0.004% of total exposure for all test conditions, which equates to a non-detectable GEM artifact for typical ambient air sample concentrations. Recovery of HgBr2 on CEM filters was >100% compared to calculated total permeated HgBr2, suggesting incomplete thermal decomposition at the pyrolyzer, as the CEM material collected HgBr2 with less than 1% downstream breakthrough on average, implying a high collection efficiency.

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Short summary
This study was undertaken to demonstrate that a cation exchange membrane (CEM) material used for sampling reactive mercury (RM) does not possess an inherent tendency to collect gaseous elemental mercury (GEM). Using a custom-built mercury vapor permeation system, we found that the CEM material has a very small GEM uptake of approximately 0.004 %, too small to create a significant artifact. We also found that a representative RM compound was collected by the CEM material with high efficiency.
This study was undertaken to demonstrate that a cation exchange membrane (CEM) material used for...
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