Mercury in soil: A method for assessing acceptable limits

  • N. W. Revis
  • T. R. Osborne
  • G. Holdsworth
  • C. Hadden


Acceptable limits for mercury in soil were determined at a site with mercury contamination after measuring the soil concentration of total mercury, the species of mercury, and the intestinal absorption of mercuric sulfide by mice. The total concentration of mercury at this site ranged from 0.5 to 3,000 ppm. Of the total mercury present, 88% was identified as mercuric sulfide, 0.01% as methyl mercury, and 7% as elemental mercury. Intestinal absorption studies in mice following the intubation of203mercuric sulfide showed that 0.4% of the intubated dose was absorbed. We estimated an acceptable limit for mercury in soil at this site based on results of this study, on reports in the literature on the intestinal and pulmonary absorption of mercury species from air, water and food; and on the normal intake of total mercury in humans reported by the World Health Organization. Based on reports in the literature and results from the present studies, we suggest an acceptable limit for mercury in soil (at this site) to be 722 ppm. With a safety factor of 10 this limit would be reduced to 72 ppm.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. W. Revis
    • 1
  • T. R. Osborne
    • 1
  • G. Holdsworth
    • 1
  • C. Hadden
    • 1
  1. 1.Oak Ridge Research Institute, Inc.Oak RidgeUSA

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