Watershed characteristics and climate factors effect on the temporal variability of mercury in the southern Baltic Sea rivers

Tom Sizmur


Received April 28, 2017,Revised , Accepted November 09, 2017, Available online March 19, 2018

Volume 68,2018,Pages 55-64

Mercury (Hg) is a neurotoxic metal which can enter into the human organism mainly by fish consumption, skin and transpiration. In the coastal zone of the southern Baltic Sea, rivers are the main source of Hg. The Polish region represents the largest proportion of the Baltic Sea catchment and this research included four rivers of the Baltic watershed: the Reda, Zagórska Struga, Kacza and Gizdepka. The samples were collected in the years 2011–2013. Total and particulate Hg concentration in these rivers were measured. Due to intensive rain, deposited mercury on the catchment area was washed out into the riverines water and introduced into the Baltic Sea. Consequently, the load of Hg increased three times. Additionally, the intensive dry atmospheric deposition during heating season caused the increase of the concentration of particulate Hg in the river water even by 85%. The research confirmed the role of the river flow magnitude in the load of mercury introduced into the sea by rivers. Moreover, a high variability of mercury concentration was connected to the additional sources such as the chemicals containing Hg and no municipal sewage system. The analysis of stable isotopes indicated that the SPM contained terrestrial organic matter; however, there was no clear correlation between Hgtot, Corg and Ntot concentrations and δ13C, δ15N, C/N in particulate matter.

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