Concentration of methylmercury in natural waters from Mississippi using a new automated analysis system

Author(s): Brown, G.; Cizdziel, J.

Mercury is a global health concern due to its toxicity, potential to bioaccumulation up the aquatic food chain, and global dispersion through atmospheric pathways. Mercury is mobilized through natural (e.g., volcanism, erosion) and anthropogenic (e.g., combustion of fossil fuels) means. Elemental mercury (Hg0), the most long-lived and stable form of mercury in the atmosphere, undergoes photochemical oxidation to the more soluble ionic mercury species (Hg2+), which falls to terrestrial and aquatic systems through wet and dry deposition. Sulfate-reducing bacteria, found primarily in low-oxygen aquatic environs, are capable of converting inorganic mercury to the neuro-toxic methylmercury (MeHg) form, which readily concentrates up the aquatic food chain. Human exposure to mercury is primarily through consumption of contaminated fish. In this study, results from a new methylmercury analyzer (Tekran 2700) will be presented. The system uses aqueous phase ethylation, gas chromatography, and atomic fluorescence detection. Samples were collected using clean techniques from areas in the Gulf Coast impacted by the oil spill, and from wetlands and groundwater in northern Mississippi. This poster will present relevant background, an overview of the instrumentation, and compare and contrast results for the saltwater and freshwater samples.

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Technical Sessions

Session I Sedimentation
Session II Weather/Climate
Session III Coastal Resources
Session IV Surface Water Management
Session V Wetlands
Session VI Education
Session VII Management/Planning
Session VIII Wetlands
Session IX Delta Groundwater
Session X Nutrients
Session XI Delta Water Resources
Session XII Ports

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