Mercury methylation rates for geochemically relevant HgII species in sediments
2012 (English)In: Environmental Science and Technology, ISSN 0013-936X, E-ISSN 1520-5851, Vol. 46, no 21, 11653-11659 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Monomethylmercury (MeHg) in fish from freshwater, estuarine and marine environments are a major global environmental issue. Mercury levels in biota are mainly controlled by the methylation of inorganic mercuric mercury (HgII) to MeHg in water, sediments and soils. There is, however, a knowledge gap concerning the mechanisms and rates of methylation of specific geochemical HgII species. Such information is crucial for a better understanding of variations in MeHg concentrations among ecosystems and, in particular, for predicting the outcome of currently proposed measures to mitigate mercury emissions and reduce MeHg concentrations in fish. To fill this knowledge gap we propose an experimental approach using HgII isotope tracers, with defined and geochemically important adsorbed and solid HgII forms in sediments, to study MeHg formation. We report HgII methylation rate constants, km, in estuarine sediments which span over two orders of magnitude depending on chemical form of added tracer: metacinnabar (β-201HgS(s)) < cinnabar (α-199HgS(s)) < HgII reacted with mackinawite (≡FeS-202HgII) < HgII bonded to natural organic matter (NOM-196HgII) < a typical aqueous tracer (198Hg(NO3)2(aq)). We conclude that a combination of thermodynamic and kinetic effects of HgII solid-phase dissolution and surface desorption control the HgII methylation rate in sediments and causes the large observed differences in km-values. The selection of relevant solid-phase and surface adsorbed HgII tracers will therefore be crucial to achieving biogeochemically accurate estimates of ambient HgII methylation rates.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
American Chemical Society (ACS), 2012. Vol. 46, no 21, 11653-11659 p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-60708DOI: 10.1021/es3015327PubMedID: 23017152OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-60708DiVA: diva2:562172