Water samples were collected from domestic wells at an unsewered residential area in Gloucester County, New Jersey where mercury (Hg) concentrations in well water were known to exceed the USEPA maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 2000 ng/L. This residential area (the CSL site) is representative of more than 70 such areas in southern New Jersey where about 600 domestic wells, sampled previously by State and county agencies, yielded water containing Hg at concentrations that exceed the MCL. Recent studies indicate that background concentrations of Hg in water from this unconfined sand and gravel aquifer system are < 10 ng/L. Additional sampling was conducted at the CSL site in order to better understand sources of Hg and potential Hg transport mechanisms in the areas with Hg-contaminated ground water. At the CSL site, concentrations of Hg were substantially lower (although still exceeding the MCL in some cases) in filtered water samples than in the unfiltered water samples collected previously from the same wells. Surfactants and elevated concentrations of sodium, chloride, nitrate, ammonium, and phosphate in water from domestic and observation wells indicated septic-system effects on water quality; detections of sulfide indicated localized reducing conditions. Hg concentrations in septage and leach-field effluent sampled at several other households in the region were low relative to the contaminant-level Hg concentrations in water from domestic wells. Relations of Hg concentrations in leach-field effluent to iron concentrations indicate that reductive dissolution of iron hydroxides in soils may release Hg to the percolating effluent. ?? 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Mercury in ground water, septage, leach-field effluent, and soils in residential areas, New Jersey coastal plain