Environmental Chemistry Environmental Chemistry Society
Environmental problems - Chemical approaches
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Gaseous mercury in coastal urban areas

Anne L. Soerensen A D , Henrik Skov A , Matthew S. Johnson B and Marianne Glasius C

A National Environmental Research Institute, Aarhus University, Frederiksborgvej 399, DK-4000 Roskilde, Denmark.

B Copenhagen Center for Atmospheric Research, Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 5, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.

C Department of Chemistry, Aarhus University, Langelandsgade 140, DK-8000 Århus C, Denmark.

D Corresponding author. Email: anls@dmu.dk

Environmental Chemistry 7(6) 537-547 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/EN10088
Submitted: 6 August 2010  Accepted: 12 October 2010   Published: 21 December 2010

Environmental context. Mercury is a neurotoxin that bioaccumulates in the aquatic food web. Atmospheric emissions from urban areas close to the coast could cause increased local mercury deposition to the ocean. Our study adds important new data to the current limited knowledge on atmospheric mercury emissions and dynamics in coastal urban areas.

Abstract. Approximately 50% of primary atmospheric mercury emissions are anthropogenic, resulting from e.g. emission hotspots in urban areas. Emissions from urban areas close to the coast are of interest because they could increase deposition loads to nearby coastal waters as well as contribute to long range transport of mercury. We present results from measurements of gaseous elemental mercury (GEM) and reactive gaseous mercury (RGM) in 15 coastal cities and their surrounding marine boundary layer (MBL). An increase of 15–90% in GEM concentration in coastal urban areas was observed compared with the remote MBL. Strong RGM enhancements were only found in two cities. In urban areas with statistically significant GEM/CO enhancement ratios, slopes between 0.0020 and 0.0087 ng m–3 ppb–1 were observed, which is consistent with other observations of anthropogenic enhancement. The emission ratios were used to estimate GEM emissions from the areas. A closer examination of data from Sydney (Australia), the coast of Chile, and Valparaiso region (Chile) in the southern hemisphere, is presented.

Additional keywords: emissions, gaseous elemental mercury, GEM/CO ratios, reactive gaseous mercury.


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