Mercury (total and methyl) was evaluated in snow samples collected near a major mercury emission source on the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) in southeastern Idaho and 160 km downwind in Teton Range in western Wyoming. The sampling was done to assess near-field (<12 km) deposition rates around the source, compare them to those measured in a relatively remote, pristine downwind location, and to use the measurements to develop improved, site-specific model input parameters for precipitation scavenging coefficient and the fraction of Hg emissions deposited locally. Measured snow water concentrations (ng L-1) were converted to deposition (ug m-2) using the sample location snow water equivalent. The deposition was then compared to that predicted using the ISC3 air dispersion/deposition model which was run with a range of particle and vapor scavenging coefficient input values. Accepted model statistical performance measures (fractional bias and normalized mean square error) were calculated for the different modeling runs, and the best model performance was selected. Measured concentrations close to the source (average = 5.3 ng L-1) were about twice those measured in the Teton Range (average = 2.7 ng L-1) which were within the expected range of values for remote background areas. For most of the sampling locations, the ISC3 model predicted within a factor of two of the observed deposition. The best modeling performance was obtained using a scavenging coefficient value for 0.25 ??m diameter particulate and the assumption that all of the mercury is reactive Hg(II) and subject to local deposition. A 0.1 ??m particle assumption provided conservative overprediction of the data, while a vapor assumption resulted in highly variable predictions. Partitioning a fraction of the Hg emissions to elemental Hg(0) (a U.S. EPA default assumption for combustion facility risk assessments) would have underpredicted the observed fallout.
Additional publication details
Mercury deposition in snow near an industrial emission source in the western U.S. and comparison to ISC3 model predictions