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Title: Quantification of methylmercury and geochemistry of mercury in sediments from a contaminated area of Descoberto (MG), Brazil
Title of periodic: Applied geochemistry
Authors: Mendes, Louise Aparecida
Lena, Jorge Carvalho de
Valle, Cláudia Magalhães do
Fleming, Peter Marshall
Windmoller, Claúdia Carvalhinho
Affiliation: Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG
Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto, Ouro Preto, MG
Instituto Federal do Amazonas, Manaus, AM
Centro de Desenvolvimento da Tecnologia Nuclear, CDTN, Belo Horiznte, MG, Brasil
Issue Date: 2016
Keywords: Methylmercury;Geochemistry;Sediments;Contamination;Descoberto MG Brazil
Abstract: In 2002, metallic Hg was found buried in a rural area of Descoberto city, Brazil. The origin of the Hg was a gold mining explotation plant established nearly one century ago. Although a number of studies have been conducted in order to assess the contamination of the area, none of them investigated the presence of methylated Hg in the hydric system. In this work methylmercury (CH3Hgþ) was determined using gas chromatography-pyrolysis-atomic fluorescence detection (CG-pyro-AFS) in material from rain sedimentation boxes and stream sediments near the contaminated area. Total Hg concentration (HgT) along with the chemical speciation by thermo-desorption were performed. HgT in material from the sedimentation boxes was found to be very high, up to 41,580 mg kg1 , even in the rainy season, when in general HgT were much lower than in dry season. The samples from the Grama and Rico streams show a range of HgT from 5.8 to 266 mg kg1 . The thermo-desorption analysis showed predominance of Hg2þ, possibly linked to organic sulfur, suggested by a good positive correlation between Hg2þ, HgT, organic mater (OM) and total S. The CH3Hgþ concentration in stream sediment samples ranged from <0.07 to 1.87 mg kg1 and in the samples of sedimentation boxes the concentrations were 1.33 and 8.0 mg kg1 during dry season. The sample with the highest percentage of HgT as Hg2þ (98%) presented also the highest percentage of CH3Hgþ (0.7%). These are high values, showing that care should be taken to avoid the transport of this material to the hydrological system. Further studies on the transfer through the food chain would be very important.
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