Total dissolved and particulate mercury (Hg), arsenic (As), and antimony (Sb) mass loads were estimated in different seasons (March and September 2011 and March 2012) in the Paglia River basin (PRB) (central Italy). The Paglia River drains the Mt. Amiata Hg district, one of the largest Hg-rich regions worldwide. Quantification of Hg, As, and Sb mass loads in this watershed allowed (1) identification of the contamination sources, (2) evaluation of the effects of Hg on the environment, and (3) determination of processes affecting Hg transport. The dominant source of Hg in the Paglia River is runoff from Hg mines in the Mt. Amiata region. The maximum Hg mass load was found to be related to runoff from the inactive Abbadia San Salvatore Mine (ASSM), and up to 30 g day−1 of Hg, dominantly in the particulate form, was transported both in high and low flow conditions in 2011. In addition, enrichment factors (EFs) calculated for suspended particulate matter (SPM) were similar in different seasons indicating that water discharge controls the quantities of Hg transported in the PRB, and considerable Hg was transported in all seasons studied. Overall, as much as 11 kg of Hg are discharged annually in the PRB and this Hg is transported downstream to the Tiber River, and eventually to the Mediterranean Sea. Similar to Hg, maximum mass loads for As and Sb were found in March 2011, when as much as 190 g day−1 each of As and Sb were measured from sites downstream from the ASSM. Therefore, the Paglia River represents a significant source of Hg, Sb, and As to the Mediterranean Sea.
Additional publication details
Mass loads of dissolved and particulate mercury and other trace elements in the Mt. Amiata mining district, Southern Tuscany (Italy)
Environmental Science and Pollution Research
Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center