ICMGP 2022 will Advance Metrology for Mercury Monitoring: An Interview with Dr. Iris de Krom
May 24 2022
Dr. Iris de Krom is an analytical chemist at the Van Swinden Laboratory (VSL), the Netherlands’ National Metrology Institute. At this year’s International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant (ICMGP), which will be held virtually from 24th to 29th July and for which registration is now open, Dr. de Krom will host a technical session discussing metrological traceability for mercury analysis and speciation.
Recently, one of our reporters sat down with Iris to discuss her pioneering metrological work and the promise of ICMGP 2022 to promote comparability in mercury monitoring. If you'd like to view a video-recording of this interview, click here.
I understand that you’ve been working in connection with mercury for some while. So, I thought it might be interesting if you could describe your mercury journey: how did you first become involved with mercury and how did that develop?
Indeed. So, six years ago, I started working at VSL, when they were already involved in projects to develop a reference standard for mercury in air that was unique worldwide. When my colleague Hugo Ent retired, I took over his work and since then, I've been responsible for the development of gaseous reference materials, traceable calibration methods and procedures for mercury concentrations in air. And for one-and-a-half years, I've also been coordinating the SI-traceable mercury projects. The main goal of the project is to develop, to validate meteorologically-sound calibration protocols for mercury gas generators which are used in the field. This is to make sure that in-the-field measurements are comparable – this will help to control and reduce mercury emissions.
What’s your involvement been with ICMGP over the years?
So, I’ve attended the last two ICMGP conferences and it’s really great to see that there’s such a large community working on many different topics regarding mercury, all with the same goal to really reduce mercury emissions, to reduce the exposure of humans, animals and the environment.
I understand this year’s conference will be virtual. This, of course, is a pity, because we won’t be able to meet each other face to face to talk to each other about mercury. But the platform that’s been chosen for the virtual conference will be very useful to get in touch and to really connect with people before the conference even starts.
That’s absolutely right. Once registered, attendees have the opportunity to see who else has registered and – a bit like a dating website! – ask them if they can establish contact. Then, they can talk with other speakers, other researchers, other academics, and so on, to talk about mercury-related issues. In some ways, although it’s not as nice as standing around the conference with a glass of wine in your hand, it does mean that you can be more proactive in terms of your networking, instead of just relying on bumping into the right person in between the presentations. Talking of the conference, I understand that you’re running one of the special sessions.
Indeed. Together with Professor Milena Horvat from the JoÅ¾ef Stefan Institute in Slovenia, I will be chairing a session on metrological traceability for mercury analysis and speciation. The main purpose is to present the latest developments in the area of traceable mercury measurements worldwide. Although significant improvements have been made in recent years, the progress in understanding atmospheric mercury is still hampered by uncertainty measurements, especially when it comes to speciation. During this session, results obtained in the projects that I’m coordinating will be presented, but also from the GMOS-Train programme, which is coordinated by Professor Horvat, the purpose of which is to better understand the global exchange of mercury between the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, and the biosphere. Other presentations on related topics will be made, also.
The session is really intended for people performing mercury analysis and interested in speciation of mercury, users of mercury measurement results, people interested in metrology and the standardisation of reference methods, and instrument manufacturers.
Indeed, monitoring and analysis is key to the activity of everyone in the mercury community. So, I guess, this is going to be of interest to just about everybody that will be at the conference.
Yes, definitely. It’s really important to emphasise that what we’re really trying to say with our special session is that comparable measurements are really essential. Once measurements are comprehensively comparable, you can really start controlling and reducing mercury emissions, which is what we’re all at ICMGP 2022 to do.
Registration for ICMGP, which will be held virtually from 24th to 29th July, is now open. Once registered, attendees can immediately interact with other attendees by means of the conferencing platform.
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