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HgCl2 soil sterilization

Mark Kamakea mark at falconer.sr.unh.edu
Tue Sep 24 10:37:42 EST 1996

Does anyone have experience working with HgCl2 as a sterilizing agent
for soils?  I found a paper that used it to study fixation of
NH4+ in sterilized soils.  However, reading the MSDS file I notice
that it is incompatible with ammonia, metallic salts and phosphates
(all of which are reagents used in the analyses).  

I was hoping to avoid using organic solvents like chloroform or
propylene oxide in order to minimize interactions with the soil
organic matter.  

Radiation sounds like it would suit my purposes well.  Availability
is a problem.

Anyone have any other ideas?


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