Mercury in both its elemental and compound forms is an important environmental trace contaminant. One method of determining the concentration of mercury involves the application of atomic emission spectrometric principles. Most practical analytical applications are devoted to the construction of empirical growth curves (<i>i.e</i>., analytical signal vs concentration). The concentration of an unknown is then determined by interpolation. Ideally, at very low concentrations the signal will be found to be linearly related to the ground state concentration of the atoms which give rise to the signal. At higher atomic concentrations, the relationship becomes complex.

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