Analysis of Mercury – Species in Sediments

  • R.-D. Wilken
  • H. Hintelmann
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (volume 23)


Mercury emission is estimated to be about 50,000 t a year. Progressive industrialization means that the anthropogenic share meanwhile amounts to one fifth of this amount [Tölg and Lorenz, 1977]. Most of the mercury release is from coal burning in coal fired power plants. Hg0 is the form which reaches the atmosphere. Mercury is distributed extensively in this way although no mercury accumulation is found in the surroundings of coal power plants. Thus mercury is an ubiquitous element. The second main emission source of mercury is the chlor-alkali industry. The resulting mercury waste leads to high local mercury contaminations of the adjacent rivers. This segment of industry can be considered to be the main source of the high mercury pollution of the river Elbe. The natural input of mercury in the environment is chiefly observed at tectonically active locations in the earth’s crust. Where continental plates collide, volcanos, geysers and thermal springs are the main mercury emission sources. Whereas natural input seldom leads to accumulation and therefore is not an environmental hazard, industrial mercury emmission can lead to environmental disasters..Meanwhile the Japanese Minamata Bight has, sadly, become renowned. Catalyst wastes containing mercury, which were dumped in the Minamata river, reach the human level of food chain via fish and this has lead to disasterous poisonings. Methylmercury chloride was the main mercury species responsible for these poisonings [Fujiki, 1972].


High Pressure Liquid Chromatography Total Mercury Anal Chim Inorganic Mercury Mercury Species 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • R.-D. Wilken
    • 1
  • H. Hintelmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for ChemistryGKSS-Research CenterGeesthachtGermany

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