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TitleAnthropogenic influences on mercury in Chinese soil and sediment revealed by relationships with total organic carbon
AuthorXue, W; Kwon, S Y; Grasby, S EORCID logo; Sunderland, E M; Pan, X; Sun, R; Zhou, T; Yan, H; Yin, R
SourceEnvironmental Pollution vol. 255, pt. 1, 113186, 2019 p. 1-8,
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20190608
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf; html
Lat/Long WENS 80.0000 135.0000 50.0000 15.0000
SubjectsScience and Technology; sedimentology; mercury
Illustrationslocation maps; diagrams; cross-plots
ProgramGEM2: Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals Western Arctic, High Arctic LIP
Released2019 09 05
AbstractRapid industrialization has led to high levels of mercury (Hg) releases from anthropogenic sources in China. When deposited to terrestrial ecosystems, Hg has a high affinity for natural organic carbon. This means that Hg concentrations will vary naturally as a function of the total organic carbon (TOC) content of different soils and sediment. Thus, Hg to TOC ratios in topsoil and surface sediment provides a useful normalized tracer of the anthropogenic impact on Hg contamination. We compiled literature-documented Hg and total organic carbon (TOC) data for topsoil (n=957) and surface sediment (n=1142) in China. Topsoil samples (n=100) were also collected in this study to broaden the spatial coverage. We found large differences in Hg:TOC ratios among topsoil from background sites, agricultural and urban areas, and mining sites and surface sediment from fluvial, coastal, and marine environments. Specifically, a significant increase in Hg:TOC ratios occurred between soils from background sites (median: Hg:TOC=21.1; Inter-Quartile Range (IQR): 9.67 to 40.7) and agricultural areas (median: 34.1; IQR: 22.1 to 58.7), urban areas (median: 62.1ng/g; IQR: 34.2 to 154) and mining sites (median: 2780; range: 181 to 43500). Urban and mining sites show the largest increase in Hg:TOC ratios, reflecting elevated anthropogenic Hg inputs in these areas. Fluvial sediment showed higher Hg:TOC ratios (median: 197; IQR: 109 to 389) than coastal (median: 88.3; IQR: 46.8 to 168) and marine sediment (median: 89.7; IQR: 53 to 138), indicating decreased anthropogenic Hg input from rivers to coastal and marine regions. Results of our study suggest Hg:TOC ratios are a useful normalized indicator of the influence of anthropogenic Hg releases on Hg enrichment in topsoil and surface sediment.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
This work applies methodology for tracking mercury in the environment to a study of highly industrialized regions to assess anthropocentric mercury release to the environment.

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