Factors influencing mercury in freshwater surface sediments of northeastern North America

By: , and 



We report on an inventory and analysis of sediment mercury (Hg) concentrations from 579 sites across northeastern North America. Sediment Hg concentrations ranged from the limit of detection ca. 0.01-3.7 ??g g -1 (dry weight, d.w.), and the average concentration was 0.19 ??g g-1 (d.w.) Sediment methylmercury concentrations ranged from 0.15 to 21 ng g-1 (d.w.) and the mean concentration was 3.83 ng g -1 (d.w.). Total Hg concentrations (HgT) were greatest in lakes > reservoirs > rivers, although the proportion of Hg as methylmercury showed an inverse pattern. Total Hg was weakly and positively correlated with the sediment organic matter and percent of watershed as forested land, and weakly and negatively correlated with sediment solids content, drainage area, and agricultural land. Sediment methylmercury concentrations were weakly and positively correlated to wetland area, and weakly and negatively correlated to drainage area. Methylmercury, expressed as a percentage of HgT was positively correlated to agricultural land area. For sites with co-located sediment and fish-tissue sampling results, there was no relationship between sediment Hg and fish-tissue Hg. Finally, our data indicate that at least 44% of waters across the region have sediment HgT concentrations in excess of Canadian and United States minimum sediment contaminant guidelines for the protection of aquatic biota. ?? 2005 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Factors influencing mercury in freshwater surface sediments of northeastern North America
Series title Ecotoxicology
DOI 10.1007/s10646-004-6262-1
Volume 14
Issue 1-2
Year Published 2005
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Ecotoxicology
First page 101
Last page 111