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Effects of Farming Activities on the Biogeochemistry of Mercury in Rice–Paddy Soil Systems


The biogeochemistry of mercury (Hg) in rice-paddy soil systems raises concerns, given that (1) the redox potential in paddy soil favors Hg methylation and (2) rice plants have a strong ability to accumulate methylmercury (MeHg), making rice an important source for MeHg exposure to humans. Therefore, all factors affecting the behavior of Hg in rice-paddy soils might impact Hg accumulation in rice, with its subsequent potential risks. As a typical wetland, paddy soils are managed by humans and affected by anthropogenic activities, such as agronomic measures, which would impact soil properties and thus Hg biogeochemistry. In this paper, we reviewed recent advances in the effects of farming activities including water management, fertilizer application and rotation on Hg biogeochemistry, trying to elucidate the factors controlling Hg behavior and thus the ecological risks in rice-paddy soil systems. This review might provide new thoughts on Hg remediation and suggest avenues for further studies.

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This study is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41673075) and the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (BK20160067). Yuxi Gao acknowledges the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (U1432241).

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Correspondence to Huan Zhong.

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Tang, W., Su, Y., Gao, Y. et al. Effects of Farming Activities on the Biogeochemistry of Mercury in Rice–Paddy Soil Systems. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 102, 635–642 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00128-019-02627-9

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  • Methylmercury
  • Organic matter
  • Bioavailability
  • Biochar
  • Bioaccumulation