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Journal Article

Quantification of free and metal-complexed cyanide by tetrathionate derivatization


Kamyshny,  A.
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Kamyshny, A., Oduro, H., & Farquhar, J. (2012). Quantification of free and metal-complexed cyanide by tetrathionate derivatization. International Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry, 92(13), 1506-1517.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-C8BF-7
A sensitive and robust method for detection of free and metal-complexed cyanide in solutions is described. The method does not require a distillation step and is applicable for both low ionic strength and sea-water samples. The method is based on the reaction of cyanide with potassium tetrathionate followed by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) separation and UV detection of formed thiocyanate. The detection limit of the method is 250 nmol L−1 cyanide (6.5 µg L−1 CN−) without a pre-concentration step. Storage for three days does not significantly change the results. The sum of free and weak metal-complexed cyanide can be measured by tetrathionate derivatization at a pH of 10. The sum of free, weak metal-complexed cyanide, iron(II) and iron(III)-complexed cyanides may be measured by tetrathionate derivatization at pH 4.4. Derivatization requires heating to 90°C for 20 min at pH = 10 and for 12 h at pH = 4.4. Weighted mean recoveries for free, iron(II), iron(III), nickel(II), silver(I), Cd(II) and Zn(II) complexed cyanide were in the range of 87 to 112% and weighted standard deviations were in the range of 1.7 to 10.0%. The method is not applicable for cyanide complexes of gold and cobalt. We illustrate an application of cyanide quantification using pore-waters from the Delaware Great Marsh.