At the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory in southeastern Idaho, a 500??C fluidized bed calciner was intermittently operated for 37 years, with measured Hg emission rates of 9-11 g/h. Surface soil was sampled at 57 locations around the facility to determine the spatial distribution of Hg fallout and surface Hg variability, and to predict the total residual Hg mass in the soil from historical emissions. Measured soil concentrations were slightly higher (p<0.05) within 5 km of the source but were overall very low (15-20 ng/g) compared to background Hg levels published for similar soils in the USA (50-70 ng/g). Concentrations decreased 4%/cm with depth and were found to be twice as high under shrubs and in depressions. Mass balance calculations accounted for only 2.5-20% of the estimated total Hg emitted over the 37-year calciner operating history. These results suggest that much of the Hg deposited from calciner operations may have been reduced in the soil and re-emitted as Hg(0) to the global atmospheric pool.
Additional publication details
Mercury in soil near a long-term air emission source in southeastern Idaho