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Title: Total mercury released to the environment by human activities

Abstract

Here, we estimate that a cumulative total of 1.5 (1.0–2.8) Tg (teragrams, or million tonnes) of mercury (Hg) have been released by human activities up to 2010, 73% of which was released after 1850. Of this liberated Hg, 470 Gg (gigagrams, or thousand tonnes) was emitted directly into the air, and 74% of the air emissions were elemental Hg. Cumulatively, about 1.1 Tg were released to land and water bodies. Though annual releases of Hg have been relatively stable since 1880 at 8 ± 2 Gg, except for wartime, the distributions of those releases among source types, world regions, and environmental media have changed dramatically. Production of Hg accounts for 27% of cumulative Hg releases to the environment, followed by silver mining (24%) and chemicals manufacturing (12%). North America (30%), Europe (27%), and Asia (16%) have experienced the largest releases. Biogeochemical modeling shows a 3.2-fold increase in the atmospheric burden relative to 1850 and a contemporary atmospheric reservoir of 4570 Mg, both of which agree well with observational constraints. We find that approximately 40% (390 Gg) of the Hg discarded to land and water must be sequestered at contaminated sites to maintain consistency with recent declines in atmospheric Hg concentrations.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2];  [2];  [1];  [3];  [3]; ORCiD logo [2]
  1. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
  2. Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA (United States)
  3. Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI); USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1364136
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC02-06CH11357
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Environmental Science and Technology
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 51; Journal Issue: 11; Journal ID: ISSN 0013-936X
Publisher:
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Streets, David G., Horowitz, Hannah M., Jacob, Daniel J., Lu, Zifeng, Levin, Leonard, ter Schure, Arnout F. H., and Sunderland, Elsie M. Total mercury released to the environment by human activities. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.7b00451.
Streets, David G., Horowitz, Hannah M., Jacob, Daniel J., Lu, Zifeng, Levin, Leonard, ter Schure, Arnout F. H., & Sunderland, Elsie M. Total mercury released to the environment by human activities. United States. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.7b00451
Streets, David G., Horowitz, Hannah M., Jacob, Daniel J., Lu, Zifeng, Levin, Leonard, ter Schure, Arnout F. H., and Sunderland, Elsie M. Thu . "Total mercury released to the environment by human activities". United States. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.7b00451. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1364136.
@article{osti_1364136,
title = {Total mercury released to the environment by human activities},
author = {Streets, David G. and Horowitz, Hannah M. and Jacob, Daniel J. and Lu, Zifeng and Levin, Leonard and ter Schure, Arnout F. H. and Sunderland, Elsie M.},
abstractNote = {Here, we estimate that a cumulative total of 1.5 (1.0–2.8) Tg (teragrams, or million tonnes) of mercury (Hg) have been released by human activities up to 2010, 73% of which was released after 1850. Of this liberated Hg, 470 Gg (gigagrams, or thousand tonnes) was emitted directly into the air, and 74% of the air emissions were elemental Hg. Cumulatively, about 1.1 Tg were released to land and water bodies. Though annual releases of Hg have been relatively stable since 1880 at 8 ± 2 Gg, except for wartime, the distributions of those releases among source types, world regions, and environmental media have changed dramatically. Production of Hg accounts for 27% of cumulative Hg releases to the environment, followed by silver mining (24%) and chemicals manufacturing (12%). North America (30%), Europe (27%), and Asia (16%) have experienced the largest releases. Biogeochemical modeling shows a 3.2-fold increase in the atmospheric burden relative to 1850 and a contemporary atmospheric reservoir of 4570 Mg, both of which agree well with observational constraints. We find that approximately 40% (390 Gg) of the Hg discarded to land and water must be sequestered at contaminated sites to maintain consistency with recent declines in atmospheric Hg concentrations.},
doi = {10.1021/acs.est.7b00451},
journal = {Environmental Science and Technology},
number = 11,
volume = 51,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {4}
}

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