Assessing mercury mobility in sediment of the Union Canal, Scotland, UK by sequential extraction and thermal desorption

Cavoura, Olga and Davidson, Christine M. and Keenan, Helen E. and Reis, Ana T. and Pereira, Eduarda (2019) Assessing mercury mobility in sediment of the Union Canal, Scotland, UK by sequential extraction and thermal desorption. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 76 (4). pp. 650-656. ISSN 1432-0703

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    Abstract

    The mobility of mercury (Hg) was assessed in sediment from the Union Canal, Scotland, UK. Samples collected from the vicinity of a former munitions factory that manufactured mercury fulminate detonators were subjected to sequential extraction followed by cold vapor atomic absorption spectrometry (CVAAS) and direct analysis using thermal desorption (TD). The sequential extraction indicated that > 75% of mercury (up to 429 mg kg −1 ) was in mobile forms, with < 12% semimobile and < 23% nonmobile species. In the TD method, > 67% of the total Hg content was desorbed in the temperature range 100–250 °C consistent with species weakly attached to the mineral matrix [tentatively identified as an iron (oxy)hydroxide-associated species]. This predominance of mobile mercury species may arise from a lack of association between Hg and either organic matter or sulfur in the sediments. Further investigation of Hg mobilization, transport, and assimilation/biomagnification is required both to determine whether there is a need for remediation of the sediment and to improve understanding of the biogeochemical cycling of Hg in shallow, oxic, freshwater systems.