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Mercury and radiocesium in Swedish lakes
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. (Naturgeografiska avdelningen)
1993 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Two large, nationwide monitoring data sets were compiled and statistically treated in order to create a national picture of the problems with high contents of mercury (Hg) and radiocesium (137Cs) in fish. Beside these two data sets, 75 lakes in four counties (Västernorrland, Gävleborg, Örebro and Kronoberg) were studied in connection to an evaluation of different measures to decrease the content of Hg and 137Cs in fish. An important objective was to investigate and determine the relationship between the content in fish and the load of the elements and how this relationship was affected by different abiotic lake characteristics. Several alternatives to measure the lake doses of Hg and 137Cs were evaluated (concentration in different fractions in lake water, in settling particles, and in surface sediments).

About 10000 Swedish lakes were calculated to have a mean Hg content in 1-kg pike (FHg) above 1 mg kg-1 (wet weight) in the end of 1980’s, that is a 5-fold increase compared to the calculated preindustrial mean value. The cumulated domestic Hg- sources of emission make the largest contribution to the presently high mercury levels in pike and particularly so in central and northern Sweden.The second most important cause is acidification and thirdly Hg emissions from European sources. The content of 137Cs in fish normalized to 100 g perch (FCs) was above the limit for commercial sale, 1500 Bq kg-k in about 14000 Swedish lakes during autumn of 1987.

An empirical model including Chernobyl fallout, hydraulic residence time and ionic strength explained almost 60 % of the inter-lake variation in FCs. At the same level of fallout, this difference in lake sensitivity, gave a tenfold difference in the initial transfer from fallout to small perch. A significant relationship was demonstrated between the lake dose of 137Cs and the content in fish. No such clear relationship existed for Hg due to the much more complex chemical and biological behaviour of Hg, where especially factors affecting méhylation and food web structure seems crucial. Lakes with a low relative sedimentation of Hg did also have a low relative sedimentation of 137Cs due to differences in particle sedimentation rates between the lakes. The sedimentation rate of radiocesium was well correlated to the natural concentration of major base cations and intercorrelated parameters such as pH, alkalinity and conductivity. The higher scavenging capacity in lakes with higher concentration of major base cations was due to higher particle sedimentation rates and higher K<i values in these lakes. However, the water chemistry was probably not causal in this respect, despite the high correlation, the distribution and sedimentation coefficients for radiocesium was not notably affected of the increased mean concentration of major base cations after liming and potash addition. It is suggested that a likely causal factor rather would be the amount and nature of scavenging agents (possibly clay minerals), which in these lakes was indicated by the natural concentration of base cations in the water.

In general, the remedial measures gave the intended water chemical response with substantially increased mean values of alkalinity, hardness and pH. Two years after the start of the remedies, the Hg concentration in small perch (Hg-pe) was reduced by about 30% on average. The sedimentation rate of Hg decreased during 1988 and 1989 (i.e. after remedial measures) in contrast to the mean concentration of total Hg in water, thus, the retention decreased. None of the methods applied gave any rapid and clear reduction in the concentrations of 137Cs in fish, in comparison with lakes where the water chemical or biological conditions not were changed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 1993. , 35 p.
National Category
Physical Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-102336ISBN: 91-7174-791-5OAI: diva2:808720
Public defence
1993-05-26, Hörsal 1, Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00

Diss. (sammanfattning) Umeå : Umeå universitet, 1993,, härtill 6 uppsatser.

Available from: 2015-04-29 Created: 2015-04-23 Last updated: 2015-04-29Bibliographically approved

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