Mercury and arsenic in the surface peat soils of the Changbai Mountains, northeastern China: distribution, environmental controls, sources, and ecological risk assessment
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The potential toxic risk of mercury (Hg) and arsenic (As) in the soils of mining regions and other artificially disturbed lands receives considerable research attention. However, limited investigation has been conducted into the surface soils of natural globally distributed ecosystems, for example peatlands. In this study, we examine the distribution, controlling factors, sources, and potential ecological risks of Hg and As in 96 samples from 42 peatlands in the Changbai Mountains of northeastern China. The results showed that average concentrations (dry weight) of Hg and As at the samples sites were 169.1 ± 0.1 µg kg–1 and 13.0 ± 7.7 mg kg−1, respectively. The distribution of Hg is largely determined by latitude and altitude, while As is controlled more by pH, total organic carbon (TOC), and ratio of TOC and nitrogen (C/N) at the regional scale. Variations in TOC, C/N ratio, and redox conditions contribute to determining the distribution of Hg, while TOC and redox conditions mainly affected the distribution of Arsenic at the local scale. Mercury mostly comes from regional atmospheric wet deposition, whereas elevated concentrations of As are related to local anthropogenic activities. Overall, Hg and As in the peatlands of the Changbai Mountains pose a moderate level of potential risk to ecological health.
KeywordsArsenic Changbai Mountains Ecological risk Mercury Peatland Regional scale Spatial distribution Surface soils
The authors would like to thank Xing’an Wang, Ming Wang, Zhiwei Xu, Chuantao Song, Sipeng Zhang, Hanxiang Liu, Fangyuan Chen, Zheng Han, Chenxi Duan, Xiaokang Zhou, Xuanqi Zhao, Yiwen Cao, and Cong Xu for their help in the fieldwork and Xinhua Zhou, Na Xu, Yanmin Dong, Jingjing Sun, Yangyang Xia, Guangyuan Xu, and Jicheng Ma for their assistance during the laboratory chemical analysis. We thank Elaine Monaghan, BSc(Econ), from Edanz Group (www.edanzediting.com/ac) for editing a draft of this manuscript.
This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41471165, 41401544), National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFC0500407), Education Department of Jilin Province (No. 2016506), and Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture Wetland Conservation & Development Center (No. 2017220101000913).
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