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Title: Challenges and opportunities for managing aquatic mercury pollution in altered landscapes

The environmental cycling of mercury (Hg) can be affected by natural and anthropogenic perturbations. Of particular concern is how these disruptions increase mobilization of Hg from sites and alter the formation of monomethylmercury (MeHg), a bioaccumulative form of Hg for humans and wildlife. The scientific community has made significant advances in recent years in understanding the processes contributing to the risk of MeHg in the environment. The objective of this paper is to synthesize the scientific understanding of how Hg cycling in the aquatic environment is influenced by landscape perturbations at the local scale, perturbations that include watershed loadings, deforestation, reservoir and wetland creation, rice production, urbanization, mining and industrial point source pollution, and remediation. We focus on the major challenges associated with each type of alteration, as well as management opportunities that could lessen both MeHg levels in biota and exposure to humans. For example, our understanding of approximate response times to changes in Hg inputs from various sources or landscape alterations could lead to policies that prioritize the avoidance of certain activities in the most vulnerable systems and sequestration of Hg in deep soil and sediment pools. The remediation of Hg pollution from historical mining and other industriesmore » is shifting towards in situ technologies that could be less disruptive and less costly than conventional approaches. Contemporary artisanal gold mining has well-documented impacts with respect to Hg; however, significant social and political challenges remain in implementing effective policies to minimize Hg use. Much remains to be learned as we strive towards the meaningful application of our understanding for stakeholders, including communities living near Hg-polluted sites, environmental policy makers, and scientists and engineers tasked with developing watershed management solutions. In conclusion, site-specific assessments of MeHg exposure risk will require new methods to predict the impacts of anthropogenic perturbations and an understanding of the complexity of Hg cycling at the local scale.« less
Authors:
ORCiD logo [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [6] ;  [7]
  1. Duke Univ., Durham, NC (United States). Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering
  2. US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Seattle, WA (United States)
  3. Univ. Mayor de San Andrés, La Paz (Bolivia). Unidad de Calidad Ambiental, Inst. de Ecología, Carrera de Biología
  4. Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guiyang (Chin). State Key Lab. of Environmental Geochemistry, Inst. of Geochemistry
  5. Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, MD (United States)
  6. Stockholm Univ., Stockholm (Sweden). Dept. of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry
  7. Univ. of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto (Canada). Dept. of Physical and Environmental Sciences
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
SC0017128
Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Ambio
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 47; Journal Issue: 2; Journal ID: ISSN 0044-7447
Publisher:
Springer
Research Org:
Duke Univ., Durham, NC (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 58 GEOSCIENCES; Contamination; Landcover; Mercury synthesis; Methylmercury
OSTI Identifier:
1419100
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1479643

Hsu-Kim, Heileen, Eckley, Chris S., Achá, Dario, Feng, Xinbin, Gilmour, Cynthia C., Jonsson, Sofi, and Mitchell, Carl P. J.. Challenges and opportunities for managing aquatic mercury pollution in altered landscapes. United States: N. p., Web. doi:10.1007/s13280-017-1006-7.
Hsu-Kim, Heileen, Eckley, Chris S., Achá, Dario, Feng, Xinbin, Gilmour, Cynthia C., Jonsson, Sofi, & Mitchell, Carl P. J.. Challenges and opportunities for managing aquatic mercury pollution in altered landscapes. United States. doi:10.1007/s13280-017-1006-7.
Hsu-Kim, Heileen, Eckley, Chris S., Achá, Dario, Feng, Xinbin, Gilmour, Cynthia C., Jonsson, Sofi, and Mitchell, Carl P. J.. 2018. "Challenges and opportunities for managing aquatic mercury pollution in altered landscapes". United States. doi:10.1007/s13280-017-1006-7.
@article{osti_1419100,
title = {Challenges and opportunities for managing aquatic mercury pollution in altered landscapes},
author = {Hsu-Kim, Heileen and Eckley, Chris S. and Achá, Dario and Feng, Xinbin and Gilmour, Cynthia C. and Jonsson, Sofi and Mitchell, Carl P. J.},
abstractNote = {The environmental cycling of mercury (Hg) can be affected by natural and anthropogenic perturbations. Of particular concern is how these disruptions increase mobilization of Hg from sites and alter the formation of monomethylmercury (MeHg), a bioaccumulative form of Hg for humans and wildlife. The scientific community has made significant advances in recent years in understanding the processes contributing to the risk of MeHg in the environment. The objective of this paper is to synthesize the scientific understanding of how Hg cycling in the aquatic environment is influenced by landscape perturbations at the local scale, perturbations that include watershed loadings, deforestation, reservoir and wetland creation, rice production, urbanization, mining and industrial point source pollution, and remediation. We focus on the major challenges associated with each type of alteration, as well as management opportunities that could lessen both MeHg levels in biota and exposure to humans. For example, our understanding of approximate response times to changes in Hg inputs from various sources or landscape alterations could lead to policies that prioritize the avoidance of certain activities in the most vulnerable systems and sequestration of Hg in deep soil and sediment pools. The remediation of Hg pollution from historical mining and other industries is shifting towards in situ technologies that could be less disruptive and less costly than conventional approaches. Contemporary artisanal gold mining has well-documented impacts with respect to Hg; however, significant social and political challenges remain in implementing effective policies to minimize Hg use. Much remains to be learned as we strive towards the meaningful application of our understanding for stakeholders, including communities living near Hg-polluted sites, environmental policy makers, and scientists and engineers tasked with developing watershed management solutions. In conclusion, site-specific assessments of MeHg exposure risk will require new methods to predict the impacts of anthropogenic perturbations and an understanding of the complexity of Hg cycling at the local scale.},
doi = {10.1007/s13280-017-1006-7},
journal = {Ambio},
number = 2,
volume = 47,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {3}
}

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