Temporal variations in Gaseous Elemental Mercury at a contaminated site
Higueras Higueras, Pablo Leon
Esbri Victor, Jose Maria
Martínez Coronado, Alba
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Mercury is considered to be a global pollutant and it has been globally transported as gaseous elemental mercury (GEM). International networks for the continuous monitoring of mercury, all of which are based on background sites, study the dispersion pattern of this metal and trends in its evolution in time and space. However, information about seasonal and daily cycling of polluted sites is scarce. The aim of the work described here was to cover this gap in knowledge. For this purpose, continuous (GEM) measurements were carried out in Almadén town from November 2011 to September 2013. Meteorological data were also collected during this time. GEM data show an average concentration during the sampling period (2011?2013) of 27.4 ng m?3, with a range of 0.8?686.9 ng m?3. The results highlighted seasonal and daily cycles of GEM in Almadén town, with seasonally higher levels in summer (686.9 ng m-3) and significantly daily higher levels during the night. A multiple linear regression model has established wind speed as the best GEM predictor in all seasons during the night, while the best predictor in winter is relative humidity, temperature in spring, solar radiation in summer and wind speed in autumn during the day. These results provide evidence that, in mining polluted sites like Almadén, photochemical reactions have a negligible impact on GEM levels during the daytime and that meteorological parameters are more relevant. Further studies on diurnal GEM cycling in polluted sites must be carried out to obtain a realistic local risk assessment, taking into account night GEM levels and their importance in each case study.