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Role of settling particles on mercury methylation in the oxic water 1 column of freshwater systems
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2016 (English)In: Environmental Science & TechnologyArticle in journal (Refereed) Accepted
Abstract [en]

As the methylation of inorganic divalent mercury (HgII) to neurotoxic methylmercury (MeHg) has been attributed to the activity of anaerobic bacteria, the formation of MeHg in the oxic water column of marine ecosystems has puzzled scientists over the past years. Here we show for the first time that MeHg can be produced in particles sinking through oxygenated water column of lakes. Total mercury (THg) and MeHg concentrations were measured in settling particles and in surface sediments of the largest freshwater lake in Western Europe (Lake Geneva). Whilst THg concentration differences between sediments and settling particles were not significant, MeHg concentrations were up to ten-fold greater in settling particles. MeHg demethylation rate constants (kd) were of similar magnitude in both compartments. In contrast, Hg methylation rate constants (km) were one order of magnitude greater in settling particles. The net potential for MeHg formation, assessed by the ratio between the two rate constants (km kd-1), was therefore up to ten times higher in settling particles, denoting that in situ transformations likely contributed to the high MeHg concentrations found in settling particles. Hg methylation was inhibited ( 80 %) in settling particles amended with molybdate, demonstrating the prominent role of biological sulfate-reduction in the process.

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Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-304390DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b03260OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-304390DiVA: diva2:1032899

PMID: 27670225

Available from: 2016-10-05 Created: 2016-10-05 Last updated: 2016-10-05

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Publisher's full texthttp://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.6b03260

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Bravo, Andrea G
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