Dr. Iris de Krom is an analytical chemist at the Van Swinden Laboratory (VSL), the National Metrology Institute of the Netherlands. At this year’s International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant (ICMGP), which will be held virtually July 24-29 and for which registration is now open, Dr. de Krom will lead a technical session on traceability metrology for the analysis and speciation of mercury.
Recently, one of our reporters sat down with Iris to discuss her pioneering metrology work and the promise of ICMGP 2022 to promote comparability in mercury monitoring.
I understand you’ve been working on mercury for some time. So, I thought it might be interesting for you to describe your journey with mercury: how did you first become interested in mercury and how did that develop?
In effect. So, six years ago, I started working at VSL, when they were already involved in projects to develop a reference standard for mercury in the air unique in the world. When my colleague Hugo Ent retired I took over his work and since then I have been responsible for the development of gaseous reference materials, traceable calibration methods and procedures for mercury concentrations in air. And for a year and a half, I have also been coordinating traceable SI-mercury projects. The main objective of the project is to develop and validate meteorologically valid calibration protocols for mercury gas generators used in the field. This ensures that measurements in the field are comparable – this will help to control and reduce mercury emissions.
What has been your involvement with the ICMGP over the years?
So I’ve been to the last two ICMGP conferences and it’s really great to see that there’s such a large community working on so many different mercury topics, all with the same goal of really reducing the mercury emissions, reduce exposure of humans, animals and the environment.
I understand that this year’s conference will be virtual. This is of course a pity, because we will not be able to meet face to face to talk about mercury. But the platform that has been chosen for the virtual conference will be very helpful in reaching out and really connecting with people even before the conference begins.
That’s absolutely correct. Once registered, participants have the option to see who else has registered and – much like a dating site! – ask them if they can make contact. Then they can chat with other speakers, other researchers, other academics, etc., to talk about mercury issues. In some ways, while it’s not as enjoyable as standing around the conference with a glass of wine in hand, it does mean you can be more proactive in terms of networking, instead of just relying on the good nobody in between. the presentations. Speaking of the conference, I understand that you are leading one of the special sessions.
In effect. Together with Professor Milena Horvat from the JoÅ¾ef Stefan Institute in Slovenia, I will chair a session on metrological traceability for mercury analysis and speciation. The main objective is to present the latest developments in the field of traceable mercury measurements around the world. Although significant improvements have been made in recent years, progress in understanding atmospheric mercury is still hampered by uncertainty measures, especially in speciation. During this session will be presented the results obtained in the projects that I coordinate, but also the GMOS-Train program, coordinated by Professor Horvat, whose objective is to better understand the global exchanges of mercury between the atmosphere, the hydrosphere and biosphere. Other presentations on related topics will also be made.
The session is really intended for people performing mercury analyzes and interested in mercury speciation, users of mercury measurement results, people interested in metrology and standardization of reference methods, and instrument manufacturers.
Indeed, monitoring and analysis are essential to the activity of everyone in the mercury community. So I guess this is going to be of interest to just about everyone who will be at the conference.
Yes definitely. It’s really important to stress that what we’re really trying to say with our special session is that comparable metrics are really essential. Once the measurements are broadly comparable, you can really start controlling and reducing mercury emissions, which is what we’re all about to do at ICMGP 2022.
Registration for the ICMGP, which will be held virtually from July 24-29, is now open. Once registered, participants can immediately interact with other participants through the conferencing platform.