Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 494–513 | Cite as

Source Identification of Florida Bay's Methylmercury Problem: Mainland Runoff Versus Atmospheric Deposition and In situ Production

  • Darren G. Rumbold
  • David W. Evans
  • Sharon Niemczyk
  • Larry E. Fink
  • Krysten A. Laine
  • Nicole Howard
  • David P. Krabbenhoft
  • Mark Zucker
Article

Abstract

The first advisory to limit consumption of Florida Bay fish due to mercury was issued in 1995. Studies done by others in the late 1990s found elevated water column concentrations of both total Hg (THg) and methylmercury (MeHg) in creeks discharging from the Everglades, which had its own recognized mercury problem. To investigate the significance of allochthonous MeHg discharging from the upstream freshwater Everglades, we collected surface water and sediment along two transects from 2000 to 2002. Concentrations of THg and MeHg, ranging from 0.36 ng THg/L to 5.98 ng THg/L and from <0.02 ng MeHg/L to 1.79 ng MeHg/L, were elevated in the mangrove transition zone when compared both to upstream canals and the open waters of Florida Bay. Sediment concentrations ranged from 5.8 ng THg/g to 145.6 ng THg/g and from 0.05 ng MeHg/g to 5.4 ng MeHg/g, with MeHg as a percentage of THg occasionally elevated in the open bay. Methylation assays indicated that sediments from Florida Bay have the potential to methylate Hg. Assessment of mass loading suggests that canals delivering stormwater from the northern Everglades are not as large a source as direct atmospheric deposition and in situ methylation, especially within the mangrove transition zone.

Keywords

Florida Bay Everglades Methylmercury Surface water Sediment 

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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Darren G. Rumbold
    • 1
    • 2
  • David W. Evans
    • 3
  • Sharon Niemczyk
    • 1
    • 4
  • Larry E. Fink
    • 1
  • Krysten A. Laine
    • 5
  • Nicole Howard
    • 1
  • David P. Krabbenhoft
    • 6
  • Mark Zucker
    • 7
  1. 1.South Florida Water Management DistrictWest Palm BeachUSA
  2. 2.Florida Gulf Coast UniversityFt. MyersUSA
  3. 3.National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationBeaufortUSA
  4. 4.The Abaco Group, LLCBoynton BeachUSA
  5. 5.East Bay Municipal Utility DistrictOaklandUSA
  6. 6.U.S. Geological SurveyMiddletonUSA
  7. 7.U.S. Geological SurveyFt. LauderdaleUSA

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