Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 5862–5872 | Cite as

Investigate the impact of local iron–steel industrial emission on atmospheric mercury concentration in Yangtze River Delta, China

  • Deming Han
  • Qingyan Fu
  • Song Gao
  • Xufeng Zhang
  • Jingjing Feng
  • Xiaolin Chen
  • Xiqian Huang
  • Haoxiang Liao
  • Jinping ChengEmail author
  • Wenhua Wang
Research Article


Mercury is a global neurotoxic pollutant, which can be globally transported and bioaccumulated in the food chain. Iron–steel production is one of the most significant sources of anthropogenic atmospheric mercury emission, while information on this source is scarce. Hourly gaseous elemental mercury (GEM) and particle bound mercury (PBM) were studied inside (IP) and at the boundary (BP) of a typical iron–steel plant in the Yangtze River Delta (YRD), China from September 2016 to August 2017. The GEM concentrations were 0.97–503.1 and 0.05–112.6 ng/m3 at the IP and BP sites, respectively, while PBM concentrations were one to four orders of magnitude higher than urban and suburban ambient levels. Several lines of evidences indicated that PBM was mainly originated from the iron–steel manufacturing process, especially from sintering and coke-making processes in this iron–steel plant. However, a combined emission effect contributed to GEM variation. The receptor model of positive matrix factorization (PMF) showed that local direct emissions (coal combustion, industrial activity, vehicle exhaust, and secondary evaporation from polluted soil) contributed 51.3% of the total GEM concentration variation. Potential source contribution function (PSCF) and concentration weighted trajectory (CWT) models clearly showed that air masses moving from areas surrounding YRD had the highest concentrations of atmospheric mercury. These results provided evidence that iron–steel manufacturing emissions have a considerable effect on regional atmospheric mercury concentrations, especially PBM.


Mercury Iron–steel industry Yangtze River Delta (YRD) Source apportionment Potential source contribution function 



This study was supported financially by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 21577090 and No. 21777094) and National Science–Technology Support Plan Project (No. 2014BAC22B07).

Supplementary material

11356_2018_3978_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1.8 mb)
ESM 1 (DOC 1803 kb)


  1. Beckers F, Rinklebe J (2017) Cycling of mercury in the environment: sources, fate, and human health implications: a review. Critical reviews in environ. Sci Technol 47(9):693–794.
  2. Brooks S, Luke W, Cohen M, Kelly P, Lefer B, Rappenglück B (2010) Mercury species measured atop the moody tower TRAMP site, Houston, Texas. Atmos Environ 44:4045–4055. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cairns E, Tharumakulasingam K, Athar M, Yousaf M, Cheng I, Huang Y, Lu J, Yap D (2011) Source, concentration, and distribution of elemental mercury in the atmosphere in Toronto, Canada. Environ Pollut 159:2003–2008. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Castagna J, Bencardino M, D'Amore F, Esposito G, Pirrone N, Sprovieri F (2018) Atmospheric mercury species measurements across the Western Mediterranean region: behaviour and variability during a 2015 research cruise campaign. Atmos Environ 173:108–126. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Driscoll CT, Mason RP, Chan HM, Jacob DJ, Pirrone N (2013) Mercury as a global pollutant: sources, pathways, and effects. Environ Sci Technol 47:4967–4983. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dumanoglu Y, Kara M, Altiok H, Odabasi M, Elbir T, Bayram A (2014) Spatial and seasonal variation and source apportionment of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in a heavily industrialized region. Atmos Environ 98:168–178. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Eckley CS, Parsons MT, Mintz R, Lapalme M, Mazur M, Tordon R, Elleman R, Graydon JA, Blanchard P, St Louis V (2013) Impact of closing Canada's largest point–source of mercury emissions on local atmospheric mercury concentrations. Environ Sci Technol 47:10339–10348. Google Scholar
  8. Eckley CS, Blanchard P, Mclennan D, Mintz R, Sekela M (2015) Soil–air mercury flux near a large industrial emission source before and after closure (Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada). Environ Sci Technol 49:9750. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Esbrí JM, Martínez-Coronado A, Higueras PL (2016) Temporal variations in gaseous elemental mercury concentrations at a contaminated site: Main factors affecting nocturnal maxima in daily cycles. Atmos Environ 125:8–14. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fu X, Feng X, Qiu G, Shang L, Zhang H (2011) Speciated atmospheric mercury and its potential source in Guiyang, China. Atmos Environ 45:4205–4212. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fukuda N, Takaoka M, Doumoto S, Oshita K, Morisawa S, Mizuno T (2011) Mercury emission and behavior in primary ferrous metal production. Atmos Environ 45:3685–3691. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gibb H, O'Leary KG (2014) Mercury exposure and health impacts among individuals in the artisanal and small–scale gold mining community: a comprehensive review. Environ Health Perspect 122:667–672. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gonzalez-Raymat H et al (2017) Elemental mercury: its unique properties affect its behavior and fate in the environment. Environ Pollut 229:69–86. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gratz LE, Keeler GJ, Marsik FJ, Barres JA, Dvonch JT (2013) Atmospheric transport of speciated mercury across southern Lake Michigan: Influence from emission sources in the Chicago/Gary urban area. Sci. Total Environ. 448, 84–95.
  15. Han D et al (2018a) Particulate mercury in ambient air in Shanghai, China: Size–specific distribution, gas–particle partitioning, and association with carbonaceous composition. Environ Pollut 238:543–553. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Han D, Fu Q, Gao S, Xu H, Liang S, Cheng P, Chen X, Zhou Y, Cheng J (2018b) Non–polar organic compounds in aerosols in a typical city of eastern China: size distribution, gas–particle partitioning and tracer for PM2.5 source apportionment. Atmos Chem Phys 18:9375–9391. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hong Y, Chen J, Deng J, Tong L, Xu L, Niu Z, Yin L, Chen Y, Hong Z (2016) Pattern of atmospheric mercury speciation during episodes of elevated PM2.5 levels in a coastal city in the Yangtze River Delta, China. Environ Pollu 218:259–268. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Huang J, Hopke PK, Choi HD, Laing JR, Cui H, Zananski TJ, Chandrasekaran SR, Rattigan OV, Holsen TM (2011) Mercury (hg) emissions from domestic biomass combustion for space heating. Chemosphere 84:1694–1699. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Huang J, Liu CK, Huang CS, Fang GC (2012) Atmospheric mercury pollution at an urban site in Central Taiwan: mercury emission sources at ground level. Chemosphere 87:579–585. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Landis MS, Lewis CW, Stevens RK, Keeler GJ, Dvonch JT, Tremblay RT (2007) Ft. McHenry tunnel study: source profiles and mercury emissions from diesel and gasoline powered vehicles. Atmos Environ 41:8711–8724. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lynam MM, Dvonch JT, Barres JA, Landis MS, Kamal AS (2016) Investigating the impact of local urban sources on total atmospheric mercury wet deposition in Cleveland, Ohio, Usa. Atmos Environ 127:262–271. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ma M, Wang D, Du H, Sun T, Zhao Z, Wei S (2015) Atmospheric mercury deposition and its contribution of the regional atmospheric transport to mercury pollution at a national forest nature reserve, Southwest China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22:20007–20018. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Marumoto K, Hayashi M, Takami A (2015) Atmospheric mercury concentrations at two sites in the Kyushu Islands, Japan, and evidence of long–range transport from East Asia. Atmos Environ 117:147–155. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mason R, Pirrone N (2009) Mercury fate and transport in the global atmosphere. Springer, USA. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Peng BX, Dai-she WU (2014) Distribution and content of bromine in Chinese coals. J Fuel Chem Technol 42:769–773. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pirrone N et al (2010) Global mercury emissions to the atmosphere from anthropogenic and natural sources. Atmos Chem Phys Dis 10:5951–5964. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Timonen H, Ambrose JL, Jaffe DA (2013) Oxidation of elemental hg in anthropogenic and marine airmasses. Atmos Chem Phys 13:2827–2836. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Tomiyasu T, Kodamatani H, Imura R, Matsuyama A, Miyamoto J, Akagi H, Kocman D, Kotnik J, Fajon V, Horvat M (2017) The dynamics of mercury near Idrija mercury mine, Slovenia: horizontal and vertical distributions of total, methyl, and ethyl mercury concentrations in soils. Chemosphere 184:244–252. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wang S, Feng X, Qiu G, Shang L, Li P, Wei Z (2007) Mercury concentrations and air/soil fluxes in Wuchuan mercury mining district, Guizhou province, China. Atmos Environ 41:5984–5993. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wang YQ, Zhang XY, Draxler RR (2009) TrajStat: GIS–based software that uses various trajectory statistical analysis methods to identify potential sources from long–term air pollution measurement data. Environ Model Softw 24:938–939. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Wang SW, Zhang Q, Streets DG, He KB (2012) Growth in NOx emissions from power plants in China: bottom–up estimates and satellite observations. Atmos Chem Phys 12:45–91. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Williams CR (2011) Mercury concentrations at a historically mercury–contaminated site in KwaZulu–Natal (South Africa). Environ Sci Pollut Res 18:1079–1089. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wu Q, Wang S, Li G, Liang S, Lin CJ, Wang Y, Cai S, Liu K, Hao J (2016) Temporal trend and spatial distribution of Speciated atmospheric mercury emissions in China during 1978–2014. Environ Sci Technol 50:13428. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wu Q, Gao W, Wang S, Hao J (2017) Updated atmospheric speciated mercury emissions from iron and steel production in China during 2000–2015. Atmos Chem Phys 17:1–28. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Xu L, Chen J, Yang L, Niu Z, Tong L, Yin L, Chen Y (2015) Characteristics and sources of atmospheric mercury speciation in a coastal city, Xiamen, China. Chemosphere 119:530–539. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Xu W, Shao M, Yang Y, Liu R, Wu Y, Zhu T (2017) Mercury emission from sintering process in the iron and steel industry of China. Fuel Process Technol 159:340–344. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Xue Y, Shen R, Ni S, Xiao D, Song M (2015) Effects of sintering atmosphere on the mechanical properties of Al–Fe particle–reinforced Al–based composites. J Mater Eng Perform 24:1890–1896. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Yue D, Zhong L, Shen J, Zhang T, Zhou Y, Zeng L, Dong H (2016) Pollution properties of atmospheric HNO_2 and its effect on OH radical formation in the PRD region in autumn. Environ Sci Technol 39(02):162–166Google Scholar
  39. Zhang L, Wang S, Wang L, Wu Y, Duan L, Wu Q, Wang F, Yang M, Yang H, Hao J, Liu X (2015) Updated emission inventories for Speciated atmospheric mercury from anthropogenic sources in China. Environ Sci Technol 49:3185–3194. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environmental Science and EngineeringShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Shanghai Environmental Monitor CenterShanghaiChina
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Science and EngineeringFudan UniversityShanghaiChina

Personalised recommendations