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Journal of the Brazilian Chemical Society

Print version ISSN 0103-5053On-line version ISSN 1678-4790


BISINOTI, Márcia Cristina  and  JARDIM, Wilson F.. Production of organic mercury from Hg0: experiments using microcosms. J. Braz. Chem. Soc. [online]. 2003, vol.14, n.2, pp.244-248. ISSN 1678-4790.

Transformation of inorganic to organic mercury is a process known to occur in the water column as well as in sediment. However, little is known about the fate of metallic mercury in tropical environments. In this work the production of organic mercury in water and sediment under aerobic and anaerobic conditions was demonstrated in a microcosm setup using a 6:1 water: dry sediment ratio, after a spike of 0.1% (w/w) of Hg0. The rate of production of organic mercury in sediment was higher under anaerobic conditions (617 mg kg-1 day-1) than that obtained under aerobic conditions (280 mg kg-1 day-1). An attempt to evaluate the production of organic mercury in abiotic conditions was not possible due to drastic changes in the microcosm during sterilization when compared to the experimental conditions maintained under biotic conditions. It was concluded that metallic mercury, which enters the environment mainly due to gold-mining activities, undergoes a reactive dissolution in the aquatic medium, thus becoming a suitable substrate for the production of organic mercury in tropical environments.

Keywords : organic and reactive mercury; dissolved organic carbon; microcosm; metallic mercury.

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