Review: evaporation of mercury from soils. An integration and synthesis of current knowledge
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- Schlüter, K. Environmental Geology (2000) 39: 249. doi:10.1007/s002540050005
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Understanding the mechanisms of mercury evaporation from soil to the atmosphere is necessary for tracing the fate of mercury in the biological environment and for assessing potential health effects and the impact of anthropogenic mercury emissions on the environment. In this article an integrating overview of the current knowledge of the mechanisms of mercury evaporation is presented. Abiological and biological formation of Hg(0) and/or (CH3)2Hg in the uppermost soil layers are the rate limiting processes of mercury evaporation from soils in background areas; the evaporation rate in background areas is probably strongly influenced by deposited airborne mercury. The evaporation rate limiting factors in mercury enriched mineralized areas with large fractions of total mercury being volatile mercury species (relative to background soil in the non-mineralized vicinity) meteorological variations and the transport characteristics of soils for volatile mercury species. Mercury evaporation rates from background soils are usually <0.2 μg·m–2·h–1 and significantly smaller than from mercury-enriched mineralized areas.