Investigations on Different Mercury-Phases in Soils of a Mercury-Mining Area by a Pyrolysis Technique

  • H. Biester
  • A. Hess
  • G. Müller
Part of the Environmental Science book series (ESE)


Mercury (Hg) contamination has attracted more attention than many other trace elements in the past few years. Local contamination due to mining activities and to industrial use of Hg, as well as increased deposition into the soils of regions far from industrial emission sources, has been detected (Lindquist et al. 1991; Glass et al. 1991; Iverfeld 1991). The emission of Hg is mainly caused by the combustion of fossil fuels, by waste incineration, by chlor-alkali plants, and by the processing of other metals (Pacyna and Munch 1991). The hazard potential of soil contaminations depends mainly on the type of bond, which controls toxicity and mobility. Due to redox- and pH-conditions of the soil and to the adsorption capacity of the different soil components, Hg can be associated with clay minerals, iron oxides, or organic material (Anderson 1979). The strong affinity of Hg to organic materials, especially to humic acids, has been shown by many authors (e. g. Strohal and Huljev 1971; Kerndorff and Schnitzer 1980; Johannsson et al. 1991; Mierle and Ingram 1991). Natural Hg anomalies are usually related to ore deposits where Hg occurs predominantly as cinnabar. Cinnabar shows very low solubility and strong resistance against weathering; thus, the bioavailibility of this form is low.


Humic Substance Humic Acid Release Curve Cold Vapour Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy Anthropogenic Mercury Emission 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1996

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  • H. Biester
  • A. Hess
  • G. Müller

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