Articles | Volume 10, issue 10
26 May 2010
 | 26 May 2010

Atmospheric wet deposition of mercury and other trace elements in Pensacola, Florida

W. M. Landing, J. M. Caffrey, S. D. Nolek, K. J. Gosnell, and W. C. Parker

Abstract. In an effort to understand and quantify the impact of local, regional, and far-distant atmospheric mercury sources to rainfall mercury deposition in the Pensacola, Florida watershed, a program of event-based rainfall sampling was started in late 2004. Modified Aerochem-Metrics wet/dry rainfall samplers were deployed at three sites in the region around the Crist coal-fired power plant and event-based samples were collected continuously for three years. Samples were analyzed for total Hg and a suite of trace elements including Al, As, Ba, Bi, Cd, Ce, Co, Cr, Cs, Cu, Fe, Ga, La, Li, Mg, Mn, Na, Nb, Ni, P, Pb, Sb, Se, Si, Sn, Sr, Th, U, V, and Zn. Nutrients (ammonia and nitrate) and major anions (chloride and sulfate) were also measured on each sample. Multivariate statistical methods were used to sort these tracers into factors that represent potential source categories contributing to the rainfall chemistry. As, Hg, Sb, Se, Sn, and non sea-salt sulfate were all significantly correlated (R>0.6) with one factor which we interpret as an anthropogenic source term reflecting input from coal combustion throughout the southeastern US. Using ratios of total Hg to volatile elements, we estimate that 22–33% of the rainfall Hg results from coal combustion in the southeastern US with the majority coming from the global background.

Final-revised paper