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Title: Seasonal and flow-driven dynamics of particulate and dissolved mercury and methylmercury in a stream impacted by an industrial mercury source

Sediments and floodplain soils in the East Fork Poplar Creek watershed (Oak Ridge, TN, USA) are contaminated with high levels of mercury (Hg) from an industrial source at the headwaters. Although baseflow conditions have been monitored, concentrations of Hg and methylmercury (MeHg) during high-flow storm events, when the stream is more hydrologically connected to the floodplain, have yet to be assessed. This paper evaluated baseflow and event-driven Hg and MeHg dynamics in East Fork Poplar Creek, 5 km upstream of the confluence with Poplar Creek, to determine the importance of hydrology to in-stream concentrations and downstream loads and to ascertain whether the dynamics are comparable to those of systems without an industrial Hg source. Particulate Hg and MeHg were positively correlated with discharge (r 2 = 0.64 and 0.58, respectively) and total suspended sediment (r 2 = 0.97 and 0.89, respectively), and dissolved Hg also increased with increasing flow (r 2 = 0.18) and was associated with increases in dissolved organic carbon (r 2 = 0.65), similar to the dynamics observed in uncontaminated systems. Dissolved MeHg decreased with increases in discharge (r 2 = 0.23) and was not related to dissolved organic carbon concentrations (p = 0.56), dynamics comparable tomore » relatively uncontaminated watersheds with a small percentage of wetlands (<10%). Finally, although stormflows exert a dominant control on particulate Hg, particulate MeHg, and dissolved Hg concentrations and loads, baseflows were associated with the highest dissolved MeHg concentration (0.38 ng/L) and represented the majority of the annual dissolved MeHg load.« less
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  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Environmental Sciences Division
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 35; Journal Issue: 6; Journal ID: ISSN 0730-7268
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23); USDOE Office of Science (SC), Nuclear Physics (NP) (SC-26)
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Mercury; Methylmercury; Industrial contamination; Stream; Stormflow
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1401641