U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division


Detection and Site Characterization

The purpose of this section is to identify analytical and sampling methods commonly used for detecting, measuring, and/or monitoring mercury that are available on line. The intent is not to provide an exhaustive list of analytical methods, but to identify well-established, standard methods, particularly those used for environmental samples and approved by EPA.

Check the National Environmental Methods Index (NEMI) to locate EPA methods not included on this page.

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Laboratory Analysis | Site Characterization | Workplace Sampling | Literature References

Laboratory Analysis

Adobe PDF LogoAnalytical Methods Utilized by the United States Geological Survey for the Analysis of Coal and Coal Combustion By-Products
J.H. Bullock, Jr., J.D. Cathcart, and W.J. Betterton.
U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 02-389, 16 pp., 2002.

Adobe PDF LogoDetermination of Mercury in Aqueous and Geologic Materials by Continuous Flow/Cold Vapor/Atomic Fluorescence Spectrometry (CVAFS)
Philip L. Hageman.
U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods 5-D2, 13 pp, 2007

Adobe PDF LogoDetermination of Methyl Mercury by Aqueous Phase Ethylation, Followed by Gas Chromatographic Separation with Cold Vapor Atomic Fluorescence Detection
John F. De Wild, Mark L. Olson, and Shane D. Olund.
U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 01-445, 19 pp., 2002.
Contact: John F. DeWild,

Adobe PDF LogoDevelopment of Analytical Methods for the Quantification of the Chemical Forms of Mercury and Other Target Pollutants in Coal-Fired Boiler Flue Gas
Terence J. McManus.
U.S. DOE. NTIS: DE00778029,78 pp., 1999.

EPA Office of Water Test Methods

Adobe PDF LogoEPA Method 1669: Sampling Ambient Water for Trace Metals at EPA Water Quality Criteria Levels
EPA 821-R-96-008, 39 pp., 1996.

Adobe PDF LogoMethod 245.7: Mercury in Water by Cold Vapor Atomic Fluorescence Spectrometry
EPA-821-R-05-001, 33 pp, 2005

Adobe PDF LogoMethod 1631, Revision E: Mercury in Water by Oxidation, Purge and Trap, and Cold Vapor Atomic Fluorescence Spectrometry
EPA 821-R-02-019, 46 pp., 2002.

Adobe PDF LogoGuidance for Implementation and Use of EPA Method 1631 for the Determination of Low-Level Mercury (40 CFR part 136)
EPA 821-R-01-023, 48 pp., 2001.

Adobe PDF LogoSpeciation of Mercury in Soils by Sequential Extraction
E.L. Miller, David E. Dobb, and E.M. Heithmar.
U.S. EPA, National Exposure Research Laboratory.

The toxicity and environmental mobility of different inorganic mercury compounds is closely related to their relative solubilities in aqueous media, so a sequential extraction procedure utilizing increasingly powerful aqueous solvents should permit the separation of mixtures of mercury compounds into operationally defined classes with different potentials for human and ecological exposure. The results of such a speciation should permit a more accurate assessment of the mercury hazard associated with a particular site than is currently provided by determination of total mercury.

Test Methods for Evaluating Solid Wastes: Physical/Chemical Methods, 3rd Edition Main Page
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, SW-846.

Mercury Methods

Adobe PDF LogoMethod 3200, Mercury Species Fractionation and Quantification by Microwave Assisted Extraction, Selective Solvent Extraction and/or Solid Phase Extraction
Method 7470A, Mercury in Liquid Waste (Manual Cold-Vapor Technique)
Method 7471B, Mercury in Solid or Semisolid Waste (Manual Cold-Vapor Technique)
Method 7472, Mercury in Aqueous Samples and Extracts by Anodic Stripping Voltammetry (ASV)

Site Characterization

Adobe PDF LogoCharacterization and Eh/pH-Based Leaching Tests of Mercury-Containing Mining Wastes from the Sulfur Bank Mercury Mine, Lake County, California
U.S. EPA, Office of Research and Development. EPA 600-R-02-032, 22 pp., 2001.
Contact: Paul Randall,

Profiles of waste ore over a range of different pH and oxidation-reduction (Eh) conditions were taken to provide information for the development of treatment alternatives for waste material at the mine site.

Adobe PDF LogoCharacterization of Mercury Contamination at the East Fork Popular Creek Site, Oak Ridge, Tennessee: A Case Study
C.L. Gerlach, et al.
EPA 600-R-95-110, 1995.
Contact: Edward Heithmar,

Adobe PDF LogoComparison of Sampling Methods to Determine Total and Speciated Mercury in Flue Gas
U.S. DOE, National Energy Technology Laboratory.
CRADA 00-F038 Final Report, 60 pp., 2001.

Development of a Novel Equilibrium Passive Sampling Device for Methylmercury in Sediment and Soil Porewaters
Sanders, J.P., A. McBurney, C.C. Gilmour, G.E. Schwartz, S. Washburn, S.B.K. Driscoll, et al.
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 39(2):323-334(2020) [Abstract]

Environmental forensics is the application of scientific techniques for the purpose of identifying the source and age of a contaminant. This book discusses the following contaminants and contaminant groups: mercury, asbestos, lead, chromium, methane, radioactive compounds, pesticides, perchlorate, polychlorinated biphenyls, arsenic, chlorinated solvents, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, crude oil, gasoline, microbes, and compounds found in sewage.

Environmental Forensics: Contaminant-Specific Guide
Robert D. Morrison and Brian Murphy.
Elsevier Academic Press, Boston. ISBN: 0125077513, 576 pp, 2006

Environmental forensics is the application of scientific techniques for the purpose of identifying the source and age of a contaminant. This book discusses the following contaminants and contaminant groups: mercury, asbestos, lead, chromium, methane, radioactive compounds, pesticides, perchlorate, polychlorinated biphenyls, arsenic, chlorinated solvents, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, crude oil, gasoline, microbes, and compounds found in sewage.

Adobe PDF LogoField Analysis of Mercury in Water, Sediment and Soil Using Static Headspace Analysis
A.A. Kriger and R.R. Turner.
U.S. DOE, NTIS: DE96009631. 10 pp., 1994.

Adobe PDF LogoField Demonstration and Validation of a New Device for Measuring Water and Solute Fluxes, NASA LC-34 Site
Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), 172 pp, 2006

ESTCP passive flux meter (PFM) demonstration and validation projects include MTBE flux measurement at Port Hueneme, perchlorate flux at the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Indianhead, and TCE flux at NASA Launch Complex 34 at Cape Canaveral.

Adobe PDF LogoHigh Resolution Passive Soil Gas Sampling for Elemental Hg Characterization
Cole, J., G. Schaefer, and J. Hodny.
NICOLE Technical Meeting, 4 December 2012, Brussels, Belgium. 24 slides, 2012

A wide-scale initial field assessment of elemental Hg can be conducted through the use of a soil vapor sampling technique that is relatively cheap and easy to apply over large areas. A case study illustrates how application of a passive soil vapor survey allowed investigators to access difficult areas for an initial screening and refine the number of soil boreholes potentially needed from >300 boreholes to 20. The soil-gas sampling results can be used to refine and select high-impact or potential source areas for the more expensive soil (borehole) sampling and analysis.

Mass Flux Toolkit to Evaluate Groundwater Impacts, Attenuation, and Remediation Alternatives
Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), 2006

To help site managers and site consultants estimate mass flux and understand the uncertainty in those estimates, ESTCP has funded the development of a computerized Mass Flux Toolkit, free software that gives site personnel the capability to compare different mass flux approaches, calculate mass flux from transect data, and apply mass flux to manage ground-water plumes. The toolkit spreadsheet and associated documentation are available on the ESTCP contractor's website in a zipped file.

Adobe PDF LogoTechniques for the Collection and Species-Specific Analysis of Low Levels of Mercury in Water, Sediment, and Biota
Mark L. Olson and John F. DeWild.
U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 99-4018b, 8 pp., 1999.
Contact: Mark L. Olson,; John F. DeWild,

Adobe PDF LogoMeasurement of Low-Level Mercury in Groundwater to Assess Movement to Surface Waters
Michigan DEQ, 3 pp., 2001.

Adobe PDF LogoMercury Geochemistry in a Wetland and Its Implications for In-Situ Remediation
D.I. Kaplan, S. Knox, J. Myers.
WSRC-MS-2002-00056, 2002.
Contact: D.I. Kaplan, Westinghouse Savannah River Company, Aiken, SC.

Adobe PDF LogoMercury Preservation Techniques
U.S. EPA, 2 pp., 2003.
Contact: Dr. Larry C. Butler, U.S. EPA, Las Vegas,

Adobe PDF LogoPortable Mercury Detector Testing and Evaluation Report
Office of Research and Development, EPA 600/R-20/019, 39 pp, 2020

This project provided credible information to select and implement technologies to protect human health and the environment during a response and remediation effort following a spill or other release to the environment. The performance of five commercially available portable Hg detectors (Ametek Arizona Instrument's Jerome® J405 and Jerome® J505 and Lumex's RA-915+, RA915M, and Light 915) was evaluated to determine whether the instruments could accurately detect Hg concentrations in the air below ATSDR's recommended action level of 1 µg/m3 for normal residential occupancy. The Jerome J505 and both the Lumex-RA 915 M and Lumex-RA 915+ instruments were compliant with EPA Performance Specification (PS) 12A and met the detection and sensitivity requirements for a clearance determination based on a 1 µg/m3 residential action level. The Jerome J405 was less sensitive, with no detector responses observed for target Hg concentrations below 1.10 µg/m3 and therefore was not in compliance with EPA PS 12A. Additionally, the Lumex detectors had response times of 2 to 7 seconds, whereas the Jerome J505 had a response time of 2 to 6 minutes. However, for Hg clearance purposes, the response time is likely not a concern.

Workplace Sampling

Evaluation of a Solid Sorbent Passive Dosimeter for Collecting Mercury Vapor
Backup Report No. ID-140, 1989.

Mercury Vapor in Workplace Atmospheres
OSHA, ID-140, 1991.

Particulate Mercury in Workplace Atmospheres
OSHA, ID-145, 1987.

Literature References

Measurement and Monitoring Technologies for the 21st Century Initiative (21M2) Literature Search

Through the Measurement and Monitoring Technologies for the 21st Century initiative, EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) will identify and deploy promising measurement and monitoring technologies in response to waste management and site cleanup program needs by matching existing and emerging technologies with OSWER program and client needs.

Adobe PDF LogoMethods for Sampling/Analysis of Mercury in Water and Solids
U.S. EPA, Office of Research and Development.
Mining Waste Scientist to Scientist Meeting, June 14-15, 2000, Las Vegas, Nevada.

A bibliography with abstracts was provided to conference attendees as a handout to support the discussion of mining waste research needs with regard to mercury sampling and analysis.