The impact of an abandoned mercury mine on the environment in the Xiushan region, Chongqing, southwestern China
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionApplied Geochemistry. 2018, 88, 267-275. 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2017.04.005
Mercury contamination is a serious problem in the Hg mining area of Xiushan County, Chongqing, southwestern China. The concentrations of total mercury (THg) and methylmercury (MeHg) in paddy soil, surface water, and rice (grain) samples were determined to investigate the regional distribution of Hg contamination. Simultaneously, gaseous elemental Hg (GEM) in ambient air near the sampling sites was measured. The total Hg concentrations in surface water were highly elevated, ranging from 13 to 2390 ng/L, and the total MeHg concentrations varied between 0.17 and 1.1 ng/L. The dissolved Hg and MeHg concentrations in surface water ranged from 4.7 to 470 ng/L and 0.14–0.35 ng/L, respectively. High THg and MeHg concentrations were also obtained in paddy soils from mining areas, ranging from 0.45 to 68 μg/g and 0.13–4.8 ng/g, respectively. Similar to the high concentrations in water and soil, the THg concentration in rice (grain) ranged from 4.7 to 550 ng/g and MeHg from 2.9 to 26 ng/g. Elevated Hg concentrations in rice, as a staple food of local residents, confirmed that rice consumption could be a vital pathway for MeHg exposure to native people. Humic acid and fulvic acid had significant correlations with soil MeHg, implying that they have important roles that influence MeHg production in soil. The spatial distribution characteristics of Hg and MeHg pollution in the local environment indicated their origins from historic Hg mining sites in the Xiushan area.