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The Effects of the Coastal Environment on the Atmospheric Mercury Cycle

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Abstract: Atmospheric mercury (Hg) species were investigated on the East Coast of Florida during June 2000. The site was impacted by air mass transport from the Atlantic Ocean and Southern Florida. Periods with atmospheric transport from the Atlantic were characterized by low concentrations of elemental gaseous Hg and inorganic divalent reactive gaseous Hg (RGM), demonstrating that the marine boundary layer was not a significant source of RGM to this coastal site as previous researchers have hypothesized. When anthropogenic impacts were observed at the site, indicated by elevated concentrations of gases including HNO3 and SO2, RGM concentrations had higher daytime maximums. Particulate phase Hg concentrations were higher than can be explained by sea spray alone, as determined by chemical analysis of the seawater, suggesting that gaseous Hg is diffusing to the sea salt aerosol. Although atmospheric Hg concentrations were not elevated, the observed scavenging of Hg gases by sea salt aerosols indicates that Hg may be rapidly cycled at the atmosphere-ocean interface between gaseous, aerosol and oceanic forms. Deposition of aerosol enriched in Hg via this process may constitute a significant global mercury flux to the oceans.

This work has been funded wholly or in part by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Research and Development. It has been subjected to Agency review and approved for publication. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation for use.
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Citation:Malcolm, E. G., G. J. Keeler, and M. S. Landis. The Effects of the Coastal Environment on the Atmospheric Mercury Cycle. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH 108(D12):ACH4-1 to ACH4-9, (2003).
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Contact: Liz Hope - (919) 541-2785 or hope.elizabeth@epa.gov
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Division: Human Exposure & Atmospheric Sciences Division
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Branch: Environmental Characterization & Apportionment Branch
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Product Type: Journal
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Published: 06/21/2003
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Downloads:
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Bullet Item The Effects of the Coastal Environment on the Atmospheric Mercury Cycle
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Last Updated on Monday, October 22, 2007
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