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Issue 12, 2010
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Mercury in rivers in NW England: from rural headwaters to the heartlands of the historic industrial base

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Abstract

Total mercury (T-Hg) concentrations in rivers are described across a rural to urban/industrial and agricultural landscape gradient in NW England. T-Hg ranges between 0.2 and 230 ng L−1. The regional median was 3.6 ng L−1 with individual river medians ranging between 1.9 and 8.3 ng L−1. Median T-Hg concentrations were sometimes moderately higher for the lowland areas and at higher flows. Our estimates suggest that the Ribble estuary receives 9.2 kg y−1 and the Wyre estuary 0.7 kg y−1. In order to examine regional inputs from urban/industrial components, regression analysis was undertaken by comparing three types of hydrochemical signature: suspended sediments (SS), which provide a measure of the particulate component, dissolved organic carbon (DOC) that provides an indication of humic/fulvic acids that are part of the organic colloids and strong chelating agents, and boron a marker of sewage effluents and population density. The results show high positive relationships of T-Hg with both SS and DOC, but no relationship with the urban/industrial signal. The regression analysis with T-Hg indicated on average a gradient of 0.33 ng mg−1 for DOC and 0.2 ng mg−1 for SS. They indicate the primary importance of a diffuse source of T-Hg. For the upland areas and cleaner river systems, the linkages between T-Hg and DOC were particularly strong, while for the lowland areas, the linkage with SS proved stronger. Analysis of a latter subset of data that partition the SS into organic and inorganic fractions indicated that the T-Hg was primarily linked with the organic fraction. Indeed, multiple regression of T-Hg with DOC and POM reveals gradients similar to other parts of the World.

Graphical abstract: Mercury in rivers in NW England: from rural headwaters to the heartlands of the historic industrial base

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Publication details

The article was received on 03 Aug 2010, accepted on 05 Oct 2010 and first published on 22 Oct 2010


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C0EM00398K
Citation: J. Environ. Monit., 2010,12, 2299-2306
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    Mercury in rivers in NW England: from rural headwaters to the heartlands of the historic industrial base

    A. P. Rowland, C. Neal, P. Scholefield, A. P. Halford, C. D. Vincent and K. Hockenhull, J. Environ. Monit., 2010, 12, 2299
    DOI: 10.1039/C0EM00398K

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