Quantitative and qualitative trapping of volatile methylated selenium species entrained through nitric acid

  • Winkel L
  • Feldmann J
  • Andrew M
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Abstract

Quantification and speciation of volatile selenium (Se) fluxes in remote areas has not been feasible previously, due to the absence of a simple and easily transportable trapping technique that preserves speciation. This paper presents a chemo-trapping method with nitric acid (HNO3) for volatile Se species, which preserves speciation of trapped compounds. The recovery and speciation of dimethylselenide (DMSe) and dimethyl diselenide (DMDSe) entrained through both concentrated nitric acid and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) were compared by HPLC-ICP-MS and HPLC-HG-AFS analyses. It was demonstrated that trap reproducibility was better for nitric acid and a recovery of 65.2 +/- 1.9% for DMSe and 81.3 +/- 3.9% for DMDSe was found in nitric acid traps. HPLC-ES-MS identified dimethyl selenoxide (DMSeO) as the trapped product of DMSe. Methylseleninic acid (MSA) was identified to be the single product of DMDSe trapping. These oxidized derivatives have a high stability and low volatility, which makes nitric acid a highly attractive trapping liquid for volatile Se species and enables reconstruction of the speciation of those species. The presented trapping method is simple, quantifiable, reproducible, and robust and can potentially be applied to qualitatively and quantitatively study Se volatilization in a wide range of natural environments.

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