Comparison of atmospheric mercury speciation and deposition at nine sites across central and eastern North America

Journal of Geophysical Research
By: , and 



This study presents >5 cumulative years of tropospheric mercury (Hg) speciation measurements, over the period of 2003–2009, for eight sites in the central and eastern United States and one site in coastal Puerto Rico. The purpose of this research was to identify local and regional processes that impact Hg speciation and deposition (wet + dry) across a large swath of North America. Sites sampled were selected to represent both a wide range of mercury exposure and environmental conditions. Seasonal mean concentrations of elemental Hg (1.27 ± 0.31 to 2.94 ± 1.57 ng m−3; x ± s), reactive gaseous mercury (RGM; 1.5 ± 1.6 to 63.3 ± 529 pg m−3), and fine particulate Hg (1.2 ± 1.4 to 37.9 ± 492 pg m−3) were greatest at sites impacted by Hg point sources. Diel bin plots of Hgo and RGM suggest control by a variety of local/regional processes including impacts from Hg point sources and boundary layer/free tropospheric interactions as well as from larger‐scale processes affecting Hg speciation (i.e., input of the global Hg pool, RGM formed from oxidation of Hgo by photochemical compounds at coastal sites, and elemental Hg depletion during periods of dew formation). Comparison of wet Hg deposition (measured), RGM and fine particulate Hg dry deposition (calculated using a multiple resistance model), and anthropogenic point source emissions varied significantly between sites. Significant correlation between emission sources and dry deposition was observed but was highly dependant upon inclusion of data from two sites with exceptionally high deposition. Findings from this study highlight the importance of environmental setting on atmospheric Hg cycling and deposition rates.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Comparison of atmospheric mercury speciation and deposition at nine sites across central and eastern North America
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research
DOI 10.1029/2010JD014064
Volume 115
Issue D18
Year Published 2010
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Eastern Energy Resources Science Center, Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description D18306; 13 p.
Country United States
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