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Designation of Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (Georgia) as a Class I Air Quality Area affords mandatory protection of the airshed through permit-review processes for planned developments. Rainfall is the major source of water to the swamp, and potential impacts from developments in the airshed are high. To meet management needs for baseline information, chemical contributions from atmospheric deposition and partitioning of anions and cations in various matrices of the swamp, with emphasis on mercury and lead, were determined during this study. Chemistry of rainfall was measured on an event basis from one site and quarterly on surface water, pore water, floc, and sediment from four locations. A sediment core collected from the Refuge interior was sectioned, aged, and analyzed for mercury. Rainfall was acidic (pH 4.7-4.9), with average total and methyl mercury concentrations of 9 ng/L and 0.1 ng/L, respectively. Surface waters were acidic (pH 3.8-4.1), dilute (specific conductance 35-60 pS), and highly organic (dissolved organic carbon 35-50 mg/L). Total mercury was 1-3.5 ng/L in surface and pore water, and methyl mercury was 0.02-0.20 ng/L. Total mercury in sediments and floc was 100-200 ng/g dry weight, and methyl mercury was 4-16 ng/g. Lead was 0-1.7 pg/L in rainfall, not detectable in surface water, 3.4-5.4 pg/L in pore water, and 3.9-4.9 mg/kg in floc and sediment. Historical patterns of mercury deposition showed an increase in total mercury from pre-1800 concentrations of 250 ng/g to 500 ng/g in 1950, with concentrations declining thereafter to present.
Additional Publication Details
Influence of atmospheric deposition on Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, annual meeting abstract book