Title: Sources of water column methylmercury across multiple estuaries in the Northeast U.S.
Authors: Balcom, Prentiss H; Schartup, Amina T; Mason, Robert P; Chen, Celia Y
Published In Mar Chem, (2015 Dec 20)
Abstract: Estuarine water column methylmercury (MeHg) is an important driver of mercury (Hg) bioaccumulation in pelagic organisms and thus it is necessary to understand the sources and processes affecting environmental levels of MeHg. Increases in water column MeHg concentrations can ultimately be transferred to fish consumed by humans, but despite this, the sources of MeHg to the estuarine water column are still poorly understood. Here we evaluate MeHg sources across 4 estuaries and 10 sampling sites and examine the distributions and partitioning of sediment and water column MeHg across a geographic range (Maine to New Jersey). Our study sites present a gradient in the concentrations of sediment, pore water and water column Hg species. Suspended particle MeHg ranged from below detection to 187 pmol g(-1), dissolved MeHg from 0.01 to 0.68 pM, and sediment MeHg from 0.01 to 109 pmol g(-1). Across multiple estuaries, dissolved MeHg correlated with Hg species in the water column, and sediment MeHg correlated with sediment total Hg (HgT). Water column MeHg did not correlate well with sediment Hg across estuaries, indicating that sediment concentrations were not a good predictor of water MeHg concentrations. This is an unexpected finding since it has been shown that MeHg production from inorganic Hg(2+) within sediment is the primary source of MeHg to coastal waters. Additional sources of MeHg regulate water column MeHg levels in some of the shallow estuaries included in this study.
PubMed ID: 26806999
MeSH Terms: No MeSH terms associated with this publication