Sulfate threshold target to control methylmercury levels in wetland ecosystems

Science of the Total Environment
By: , and 



Sulfate contamination has a significant environmental implication through the stimulation of toxic hydrogen sulfide and methylmercury (MeHg) production. High levels of MeHg are a serious problem in many wetland ecosystems worldwide. In the Florida Everglades, it has been demonstrated that increasing MeHg occurrence is due to a sulfate contamination problem. A promising strategy of lowering the MeHg occurrence is to reduce the amount of sulfate entering the ecosystem. High surface water sulfate concentrations in the Everglades are mainly due to discharges from the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) canals. Water and total sulfur mass balances indicated that total sulfur released by soil oxidation, Lake Okeechobee and agricultural application were the major sources contributing 49,169, 35,217 and 11,775mtonsyear-1, respectively. Total sulfur loads from groundwater, levees, and atmospheric deposition contributed to a lesser extent: 4055; 5858 and 4229mtonsyear-1, respectively. Total sulfur leaving the EAA into Water Conservation Areas (WCAs) through canal discharge was estimated at 116,360mtonsyear-1, and total sulfur removed by sugarcane harvest accounted for 23,182mtonsyear-1. Furthermore, a rise in the mineral content and pH of the EAA soil over time, suggested that the current rates of sulfur application would increase as the buffer capacity of the soil increases. Therefore, a site specific numeric criterion for sulfate of 1mgL-1 was recommended for the protection of the Everglades; above this level, mercury methylation is enhanced. In parallel, sulfide concentrations in the EAA exceeded the 2??gL-1 criterion for surface water already established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ?? 2011 Elsevier B.V.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Sulfate threshold target to control methylmercury levels in wetland ecosystems
Series title Science of the Total Environment
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.02.030
Volume 409
Issue 11
Year Published 2011
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Science of the Total Environment
First page 2156
Last page 2162
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