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Title: Mercury contaminated sediment sites—An evaluation of remedial options

Mercury (Hg) is a naturally-occurring element that is ubiquitous in the aquatic environment. Though efforts have been made in recent years to decrease Hg emissions, historically-emitted Hg can be retained in the sediments of aquatic bodies where they may be slowly converted to methylmercury (MeHg). Consequently, Hg in historically-contaminated sediments can result in high levels of significant exposure for aquatic species, wildlife and human populations consuming fish. Even if source control of contaminated wastewater is achievable, it may take a very long time, perhaps decades, for Hg-contaminated aquatic systems to reach relatively safe Hg levels in both water and surface sediment naturally. It may take even longer if Hg is present at higher concentration levels in deep sediment. Hg contaminated sediment results from previous releases or ongoing contributions from sources that are difficult to identify. Due to human activities or physical, chemical, or biological processes (e.g. hydrodynamic flows, bioturbation, molecular diffusion, and chemical transformation), the buried Hg can be remobilized into the overlying water. Hg speciation in the water column and sediments critically affect the reactivity (i.e. conversion of inorganic Hg(II) to MeHg), transport, and its exposure to living organisms. Also, geochemical conditions affect the activity of methylating bacteria andmore » its availability for methylation. This review paper discusses remedial considerations (e.g. key chemical factors in fate and transport of Hg, source characterization and control, environmental management procedures, remediation options, modeling tools) and includes practical case studies for cleaning up Hg-contaminated sediment sites. -- Highlights: ► Managing mercury-contaminated sediment sites are challenging to remediate. ► Remediation technologies are making a difference in managing these sites. ► Partitioning plays a dominant role in the distribution of mercury species. ► Mathematical models can be used to help us understand the chemistry and processes.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2]
  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Risk Management Research Laboratory, 26 West Martin Luther King Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45268 (United States)
  2. Tetra Tech, Inc., 250 West Court Street, Suite 200W, Cincinnati, OH 45202 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22246947
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Environmental Research; Journal Volume: 125; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2013 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
60 APPLIED LIFE SCIENCES; BACTERIA; CONCENTRATION RATIO; GEOCHEMISTRY; MERCURY; METHYLATION; METHYLMERCURY; REMEDIAL ACTION; SEDIMENTS; WASTE WATER; WILD ANIMALS