Trends in mercury wet deposition and mercury air concentrations across the U.S. and Canada

Peter S. Weiss-Penzias, David A. Gay, Mark E. Brigham, Matthew T. Parsons, Mae S. Gustin, Arnout ter Schure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study examined the spatial and temporal trends of mercury (Hg) in wet deposition and air concentrations in the United States (U.S.) and Canada between 1997 and 2013. Data were obtained from the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) and Environment Canada monitoring networks, and other sources. Of the 19 sites with data records from 1997–2013, 53% had significant negative trends in Hg concentration in wet deposition, while no sites had significant positive trends, which is in general agreement with earlier studies that considered NADP data up until about 2010. However, for the time period 2007–2013 (71 sites), 17% and 13% of the sites had significant positive and negative trends, respectively, and for the time period 2008–2013 (81 sites) 30% and 6% of the sites had significant positive and negative trends, respectively. Non-significant positive tendencies were also widespread. Regional trend analyses revealed significant positive trends in Hg concentration in the Rocky Mountains, Plains, and Upper Midwest regions for the recent time periods in addition to significant positive trends in Hg deposition for the continent as a whole. Sulfate concentration trends in wet deposition were negative in all regions, suggesting a lower importance of local Hg sources. The trend in gaseous elemental Hg from short-term datasets merged as one continuous record was broadly consistent with trends in Hg concentration in wet deposition, with the early time period (1998–2007) producing a significantly negative trend (− 1.5 ± 0.2% year− 1) and the recent time period (2008–2013) displaying a flat slope (− 0.3 ± 0.1% year− 1, not significant). The observed shift to more positive or less negative trends in Hg wet deposition primarily seen in the Central-Western regions is consistent with the effects of rising Hg emissions from regions outside the U.S. and Canada and the influence of long-range transport in the free troposphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)546-556
Number of pages11
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume568
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 15 2016

Keywords

  • Gaseous elemental mercury
  • Mercury
  • Mercury deposition network
  • North America
  • Precipitation
  • Sulfate
  • Trends
  • Wet deposition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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