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Mercury isotope signatures in sediments and marine organisms as tracers of historical industrial pollution

TitleMercury isotope signatures in sediments and marine organisms as tracers of historical industrial pollution
Publication TypeArticolo su Rivista peer-reviewed
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsBonsignore, M., Manta D.S., Barsanti Mattia, Conte Fabio, Delbono Ivana, Horvat M., Quinci E.M., Schirone Antonio, Shlyapnikov Y., and Sprovieri M.
KeywordsAluminum, article, cesium 137, Chlor-alkali plants, concentration (composition), controlled study, demethylation, fractionation, Hg concentrations, Historical trends, Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, Industrial pollution, isotope, Isotope compositions, Isotope signatures, Isotopes, isotopic composition, Italy, lead 210, limit of detection, Marine biology, marine environment, Marine pollution, marine species, mercury, mercury (element), Mercury (metal), Model validation, Mullus, Mytilus, Mytilus galloprovincialys, Octopus vulgaris, Paracentrotus lividus, sediment, sediment analysis, Sediments, surface property, Surface sediments, tracer, water column

Isotopic composition of mercury (Hg) in marine organisms and sediment cores was used to identify sources and reconstruct historical trends of contamination in the coastal-marine area of Rosignano Solvay (Italy), affected by Hg pollution from a chlor-alkali plant on the near land. Sediments show a wide range of Hg concentration and Hg isotope signatures. Particularly, coupled Hg concentration and δ202Hg values trace inputs from different sources. The two depth-profiles clearly indicate three distinct periods: “pre-industrial” (before 1941), “industrial” (between 1941 and 2007) and “post-industrial” (after 2007) ages. This is also corroborated by sediment chronology, using 210Pb dating method, validated through 137Cs. Marine organisms are characterized by Hg isotope signatures comparable to “post-industrial” surface sediments. Notably, specimens of Mullus spp. evidence isotope composition comparable to the “industrial” sediments, thus suggesting a still active role of those sediments as source of Hg for the benthic fish compartment. The small amount of MIF and the Δ199Hg/Δ201Hg ratio recorded in organisms are reasonably consistent with limited processes of MMHg demethylation in the water column. © 2020 Elsevier Ltd


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Citation KeyBonsignore2020