To estimate the impact of mercury discharged from artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) activity, variations in the concentrations of elemental mercury (Hg0), mercury ion (Hg2+), particulate mercury (P-Hg), and total mercury in filtered river water (FT-Hg) were investigated from sampling locations extending from 10 km upstream to 30 km downstream of ASGM operations in West Java, Indonesia. The average of the annual concentrations at the ASGM site from 2013 to 2017 were 0.14–0.85 μg L−1, 0.27–12.9 μg L−1, 4.3–49.5 μg L−1, and 1.2–12.5 μg L−1 for Hg0, Hg2+, P-Hg, and FT-Hg, respectively. The concentration of mercury species decreased as the distance from the ASGM site increased, while the ratio of P-Hg increased towards the lower reaches of the river system, with the percentage of P-Hg estimated at 90% of Hg at the sample location furthest downstream. A high mercury concentration of 600 mg kg−1 was observed for suspended particulate matter (SPM) at the ASGM site. The SPM maintained a high concentration of mercury, even in the downstream area. In the annual variations of the mercury species from 2013 to 2017, FT-Hg and P-Hg concentrations tended to decrease from 2016, which suggested a decline of ASGM activity in this area. However, SPM and river sediment showed no apparent changes in their mercury concentrations over this period, indicating that the contamination in the river system is persistent and does not recover quickly.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Appleton JD, Williams TM, Breward N, Apostol A, Miguel J, Miranda C (1999) Mercury contamination associated with artisanal gold mining on the island of Mindanao, the Philippines. Sci Total Environ 228:95–109
Ashe K (2012) Elevated mercury concentrations in humans of Madre de Dios, Peru. PLoS One 7:e33305
Basuki A, Sumanagara DA, Sinambela D (1994) The Gunung Pongkor gold-silver deposit, West Java, Indonesia. J Geochem Explor 50:371–391
Bloom SN, Crecelius AE (1983) Determination of mercury in seawater at sub-nanogram per liter levels. Mar Chem 14:49–59
Committee for the Mercury Analysis Manual (2004) Mercury analysis manual. Ministry of the Environment, Japan
Cranston RE, Buckley DE (1972) Mercury pathways in a river and estuary. Environ Sci Technol 6:274–278
Diringer SE, Feingold BJ, Ortiz EJ, Gallis JA, Araújo Flores JM, Berky A, Pan WKY, Hsu-Kim H (2015) River transport of mercury from artisanal and small-scale gold mining and risks for dietary mercury exposure in Madre de Dios, Peru. Environ Sci Process Impacts 17:478–487
Drake PL, Rojas M, Reh CM, Mueller CA, Jenkins FM (2001) Occupational exposure to airborne mercury during gold mining operations near El Callao, Venezuela. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 74:206–212
Eisler R (2004) Mercury hazards from gold mining to humans, plants, and animals. Rev Environ Contam Toxicol 181:139–198
Figueira P, Lopes CB, Daniel-da-Silva AL, Pereira E, Duarte AC, Trindade T (2011) Removal of mercury (II) by dithiocarbamate surface functionalized magnetite particles: application to synthetic and natural spiked waters. Water Res 45:5773–5784
Gardiner J (1973) The chemistry of cadmium in natural water-II. The adsorption of cadmium on river muds and naturally occurring solids. Water Res 8:157–164
Grandjean P, White RF, Nielsen A, Cleary D, Santos ECO (1999) Methylmercury neurotoxicity in Amazonian children downstream from gold mining. Environ Health Perspect 107:587–591
Hidayati N, Juhaeti T, Syarif F (2009) Mercury and cyanide contaminations in gold mine environment and possible solution of cleaning up by using phytoextraction. J Biosci 16:88–94
Kono Y, Tomiyasu T (2013) Quantitative evaluation of real-time measurements of atmospheric mercury in a mercury-contaminated area. J Environ Saf 4:153–157
Kono Y, Rahajoe JS, Hidayati N, Kodamatani H, Tomiyasu T (2012) Using native epiphytic ferns to estimate the atmospheric mercury levels in a small-scale gold mining area of West Java, Indonesia. Chemosphere 89:241–248
Lacerda LD, Salomons W (1998) Mercury from gold and silver mining: a chemical time bomb? Springer, Berlin, p 146
Logar M, Horvat M, Akagi H, Ando T, Tomiyasu T, Fajon V (2001) Determination of total mercury and monomethylmercury compounds in water samples from Minamata Bay, Japan: an interlaboratory comparative study of different analytical techniques. Appl Organomet Chem 15:515–526
Marrugo-Negrete J, Norberto Benitez L, Olivero-Verbel J (2008) Distribution of Mercury in Several Environmental Compartments in an Aquatic Ecosystem Impacted by Gold Mining in Northern Colombia, Arch Environ Contam Toxicol, 55, 305–316
Maurice-Bourgoin L, Quemerais B, Moreira-Turcq P, Seyler P (2003) Transport, distribution and speciation of mercury in the Amazon River at the confluence of black and white waters of the Negro and Solimoes Rivers. Hydrol Process 17:1405–1417
Mol JH, Ramlal JS, Lietar C, Verloo M (2001) Mercury contamination in freshwater, estuarine, and marine fishes in relation to small-scale gold mining in Suriname, South America. Environ Res Sec A 86:183–197
Moreno-Brush M, Rydberg J, Gamboa N, Storch I, Biester H (2016) Is mercury from small-scale gold mining prevalent in the southeastern Peruvian Amazon? Environ Pollut 218:150–159
Niane B, Moritz R, Guédron S, Ngom PM, Pfeifer HR, Mall I, Poté J (2014) Effect of recent artisanal small-scale gold mining on the contamination of surface river sediment: case of Gambia River, Kedougou region, southeastern Senegal. J Geochem Explor 144:517–527
Oliveira LJ, Hylander LD, Silva EC (2004) Mercury behavior in a tropical environment: the case of small-scale gold mining in Poconé, Brazil. Environ Pract 6:121–134
Olivero J, Solano B (1998) Mercury in environmental samples from a waterbody contaminated by gold mining in Colombia, South America. Sci Total Environ 217:83–89
Pfeiffer WC, Lacerda DL, Malm O, Souza CMM, Silveira EG, Bastos WR (1989) Mercury concentrations in inland waters of gold-mining areas in Rondonia, Brazil. Sci Total Environ 87/88:233–240
Pfeiffer WC, Malm O, Souza CMM, Lacerda DL, De Silva EG, Bastos WR (1991) Mercury in the Madeira River ecosystem, Rondonia, Brazil. For Ecol Manag 38:239–245
Pinedo-Hernández J, Marrugo-Negrete J, Díez S (2015) Speciation and bioavailability of mercury in sediments impacted by gold mining in Colombia. Chemosphere 119:1289–1295
Reichelt-Brushett AJ, Stone J, Howe P, Thomas B, Clark M, Male Y, Nanlohy A, Butcher P (2017) Geochemistry and mercury contamination in receiving environments of artisanal mining wastes and identified concerns for food safety. Environ Res 152:407–418
Roth DA, Taylor HE, Domagalski J, Dileanis P, Peart DB, Antweiler RC, Alpers CN (2001) Distribution of inorganic mercury in Sacramento River water and suspended colloidal sediment material. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 40:161–172
Slowey AJ, Rytuba JJ, Brown JRGE (2005) Speciation of mercury and mode of transport from placer gold mine tailings. Environ Sci Technol 39:1547–1554
Straaten P (2000) Mercury contamination associated with small-scale gold mining in Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Sci Total Environ 259:105–113
Tomiyasu T, Kono Y, Kodamatani H, Hidayati N, Rahajoe JS (2013) The distribution of mercury around the small-scale gold mining area along the Cikaniki river, Bogor, Indonesia. Environ Res 125:12–19
Tomiyasu T, Kodamatani H, Hamada YK, Matsuyama A, Imura R, Taniguchi Y, Hidayati N, Rahajoe JS (2017) Distribution of total mercury and methylmercury around the small-scale gold mining area along the Cikaniki River, Bogor, Indonesia. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24:2643–2652
UNEP. Global Mercury Assessment 2013: Sources, Emissions, Releases. 2013.
Wade L (2013) Gold’s Dark Side. Science 341:1448–1449
Yustiawati, Syawal MS, Terashima M, Tanaka S (2006) Speciation analysis of mercury in river water in West Java, Indonesia. Tropics 15:425–428
This work was supported by Grants-in-Aid (Nos. 22404002 and 25257302) for Scientific Research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Responsible editor: Severine Le Faucheur
About this article
Cite this article
Tomiyasu, T., Hamada, Y.K., Kodamatani, H. et al. Transport of mercury species by river from artisanal and small-scale gold mining in West Java, Indonesia. Environ Sci Pollut Res 26, 25262–25274 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-019-05718-6
- Mercury pollution
- Suspended matter