Articles | Volume 10, issue 10
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 4467–4476, 2010

Special issue: Chemistry, Emission, and Transport of Atmospheric Mercury...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 4467–4476, 2010

  17 May 2010

17 May 2010

Patterns of mercury dispersion from local and regional emission sources, rural Central Wisconsin, USA

A. Kolker1, M. L. Olson2, D. P. Krabbenhoft2, M. T. Tate2, and M. A. Engle1 A. Kolker et al.
  • 1US Geological Survey, Eastern Energy Resources Science Center, Reston, VA, 20192 USA
  • 2US Geological Survey, Wisconsin Water Science Center, Middleton, WI, 53562 USA

Abstract. Simultaneous real-time changes in mercury (Hg) speciation- reactive gaseous Hg (RGM), elemental Hg (Hg°), and fine particulate Hg (Hg-PM2.5), were determined from June to November, 2007, in ambient air at three locations in rural Central Wisconsin. Known Hg emission sources within the airshed of the monitoring sites include: 1) a 1114 megawatt (MW) coal-fired electric utility generating station; 2) a Hg-bed chlor-alkali plant; and 3) a smaller (465 MW) coal-burning electric utility. Monitoring sites, showing sporadic elevation of Hg°, Hg-PM2.5, and RGM were positioned at distances of 25, 50 and 100 km northward of the larger electric utility. Median concentrations of Hg°, Hg-PM2.5, and RGM were 1.3–1.4 ng m−3, 2.6–5.0 pg m−3, and 0.6–0.8 pg m−3, respectively. A series of RGM events were recorded at each site. The largest, on 23 September, occurred under prevailing southerly winds, with a maximum RGM value (56.8 pg m-3) measured at the 100 km site, and corresponding elevated SO2 (10.4 ppbv; measured at 50 km site). The finding that RGM, Hg°, and Hg-PM2.5 are not always highest at the 25 km site, closest to the large generating station, contradicts the idea that RGM decreases with distance from a large point source. This may be explained if: 1) the 100 km site was influenced by emissions from the chlor-alkali facility or by RGM from regional urban sources; 2) the emission stack height of the larger power plant promoted plume transport at an elevation where the Hg is carried over the closest site; or 3) RGM was being generated in the plume through oxidation of Hg°. Operational changes at each emitter since 2007 should reduce their Hg output, potentially allowing quantification of the environmental benefit in future studies.

Final-revised paper