Is total mercury concentration a good predictor of methyl mercury concentration in aquatic systems?
Methyl mercury (MeHg) concentrations were compared to total mercury (THg) concentrations in a variety of types of aqueous samples collected at the Experimental Lakes Area during 1991 through 1993. In several streams, an experimentally flooded wetland, and peat pore water, there was no relationship between MeHg and THg concentrations. %MeHg (compared to THg) ranged from < 1% to over 90%. In three ELA lakes, as in groups of lakes from other regions, a linear relationship between MeHg and THg concentration was found. However, these relationships differed by a factor of three from one region to another. This study shows that THg inputs and/or concentrations are not very useful in predicting MeHg concentrations, and that factors within ecosystems are very important in controlling MeHg concentrations.
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