In this study, a new method was developed based on aqueous
phenylation, purge-and-trap preconcentration, gas chromatography
(GC) separation, and detection by atomic fluorescence spectrometry
(AFS) or inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS).
Using the developed method, both monomethylmercury and
monoethylmercury were detected in a number of soil and sediment
samples collected from the Florida Everglades. The identity of
monoethylmercury was verified by purge-and-trap-GC/MS analysis. The
possibility of analytical artifact was excluded by using stable
isotope tracer technique in combination with ICPMS detection. Soil
incubation and sawgrass culture experiments using stable isotope
tracers revealed that monomethylmercury was mainly produced by
microbial activities under anaerobic conditions. However,
ethylation of Hg was not confirmed in those experiments. Further
experiments revealed that trace levels of ethyllead species were
able to transfer ethyl groups to Hg in both deionized water and
freshwater matrixes, producing monoethylmercury. This might
partially accounted for the occurrence of monoethylmercury in the
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