Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 94, Issue 1–2, pp 109–123 | Cite as

Total mercury and methylmercury in sediments and in the polychaeteNereis diversicolor at Groot Buitenschoor (Scheldt estuary, Belgium)

  • B. B. M. Muhaya
  • M. Leermakers
  • W. Baeyens


Total mercury (Hg) and methylmercury (MeHg) concentrations were determined in sediments and in the polychaete wormNereis diversicolor at 13 stations of a brackish water intertidal mudflat of the Scheldt estuary. Hg and MeHg concentrations in sediments ranged from 144 to 1192 ng g−1 dw and from 0.8 to 6 ng g−1 dw, respectively. Both Hg and MeHg concentrations increased with an increase of organic matter (OM) content and fine grain fraction. In contrast, Hg accumulation byN. diversicolor was significantly (p<0.05) higher at stations with sandy sediments (mean value: 125 ng g−1 dw) than at stations with muddy sediments (mean value, 80 ng g−1), probably because Hg availability for bioaccumulation at muddy stations was reduced by high OM content of the muddy sediments. MeHg accounted for an average of 0.7% of the total Hg in sediments and 18% of the total Hg inN. diversicolor. Seasonal variations significantly affected Hg concentrations in sediments and MeHg inN. diversicolor. Total Hg concentrations in sediments were significantly (p<0.05) higher in autumn and winter than in spring and summer whereas MeHg concentrations were lowest in winter compared to the other seasons. On the other hand, total Hg concentrations in the worms were lowest in spring whereas MeHg concentrations were significantly (p<0.01) higher in spring and summer than in autumn and winter.

Key words

mercury methylmercury sediment polychaete Nereis diversicolor methylation bioaccumulation Scheldt estuary 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. B. M. Muhaya
    • 1
  • M. Leermakers
    • 1
  • W. Baeyens
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Analytical ChemistryFree University of Brussels (V.U.B.)BrusselsBelgium

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