Amperometric Determination of Mercury in
Organomercurials and Proteins

Sarah Ehrlich-Rogozinsky and Ruth Sperling
Departments of Biophysics and Chemical Physics, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.

DURING THE COURSE of studies of mercury derivatives of pro-

teins (I, 2), a method was needed for the determination of

very small amounts of mercury in proteins. Amperometric

titrations have been widely used for determination of mercury,

mostly in semimicro amounts of inorganic salts (3). South-

worth et al. (4) used amperometric titration at a rotating

platinum electrode for the determination of mercury bound to

organic compounds. This was done by titration with EDTA

after digestion of the organic material in a Schoeniger oxygen


With the aim of extending the amperometric method for

determination of mercury(I1) to the submicro scale, we

sought a suitable reagent. Bis(2-hydroxyethy1)dithiocar-

bamate (DTC), which forms water soluble complexes with

metals, was used by Fritz and Sutton (5) as a reagent for visual

and potentiometric titration of mercury, in semimicro

amounts. This reagent was also used for preferential de-

termination of mercury in the presence of other metals, after

masking with EDTA. We have therefore chosen bis(2-

hydroxyethy1)dithiocarbamate for the amperometric titration

of trace amounts of mercury(I1) at the rotating platinum

electrode (6). Using this system, we found it possible to deter-

mine rapidly 5-150 pg of mercury(II), in a 0.05M borax, 0.1M

potassium chloride solution. This method was applied

also for the determination of 10-150 pg of mercury in organic

mercurials and proteins, after wet combustion with perchloric

and nitric acid.



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