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Title: Final Technical Report: Mercury Release from Organic Matter (OM) and OM-Coated Mineral Surfaces

Chemical reactions between mercury, a neurotoxin, and sulfur, an essential nutrient, in the environment control to a large extent the distribution and amount of mercury available for uptake by living organisms. The largest reservoir of sulfur in soils is in living, decaying, and dissolved natural organic matter. The decaying and dissolved organic matter can also coat the surfaces of minerals in the soil. Mercury (as a divalent cation) can bind to the sulfur species in the organic matter as well as to the bare mineral surfaces, but the extent of binding and release of this mercury is not well understood. The goals of the research were to investigate fundamental relationships among mercury, natural organic matter, and selected minerals to better understand specifically the fate and transport of mercury in contaminated soils downstream from the Y-12 plant along East Fork Poplar Creek, Tennessee, and more generally in any contaminated soil. The research focused on (1) experiments to quantify the uptake and release of mercury from two clay minerals in the soil, kaolinite and vermiculite, in the presence and absence of dissolved organic matter; (2) release of mercury from cinnabar under oxic and anoxic conditions; (3) characterization of the forms of mercurymore » in the soil using synchrotron X-ray absorption spectroscopic techniques; and, (4) determination of molecular forms of mercury in the presence of natural organic matter. We also leveraged funding from the National Science Foundation to (5) evaluate published approaches for determining sulfur speciation in natural organic matter by fitting X-ray Absorption Near Edge Structure (XANES) spectra obtained at the sulfur K-edge and apply optimized fitting schemes to new measurements of sulfur speciation in a suite of dissolved organic matter samples from the International Humic Substances Society. Lastly, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Colorado and the U.S. Geological Survey in Boulder, Colorado, (6) we investigated the biogeochemical controls on the release of mercury in simulated flooding experiments using loose soils and intact soil cores from East Fork Poplar Creek.« less
  1. Univ. of Illinois, Chicago, IL (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Univ. of Illinois, Chicago, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES Mercury, natural organic matter, kaolinite, vermiculite, cinnabar, metacinnabar, soil