Articles | Volume 10, issue 15
03 Aug 2010
 | 03 Aug 2010

Identification of potential regional sources of atmospheric total gaseous mercury in Windsor, Ontario, Canada using hybrid receptor modeling

X. Xu and U. S. Akhtar

Abstract. Windsor (Ontario, Canada) experiences trans-boundary air pollution as it is located on the border immediately downwind of industrialized regions of the United States of America. A study was conducted in 2007 to identify the potential regional sources of total gaseous mercury (TGM) and investigate the effects of regional sources and other factors on seasonal variability of TGM concentrations in Windsor.

TGM concentration was measured at the University of Windsor campus using a Tekran® 2537A Hg vapour analyzer. An annual mean of 2.02±1.63 ng/m3 was observed in 2007. The average TGM concentration was high in the summer (2.48±2.68 ng/m3) and winter (2.17±2.01 ng/m3), compared to spring (1.88±0.78 ng/m3) and fall (1.76±0.58 ng/m3). Hybrid receptor modeling potential source contribution function (PSCF) was used by incorporating 72-h backward trajectories and measurements of TGM in Windsor. The results of PSCF were analyzed in conjunction with the Hg emissions inventory of North America (by state/province) to identify regions affecting Windsor. In addition to annual modeling, seasonal PSCF modeling was also conducted. The potential source region was identified between 24–61° N and 51–143° W. Annual PSCF modeling identified major sources southwest of Windsor, stretching from Ohio to Texas. The emissions inventory also supported the findings, as Hg emissions were high in those regions. Results of seasonal PSCF modeling were analyzed to find the combined effects of regional sources, meteorological conditions, and surface re-emissions, on seasonal variability of Hg concentrations. It was found that the summer and winter highs of atmospheric Hg can be attributed to areas where large numbers of coal fired power plants are located in the USA. Weak atmospheric dispersion due to low winds and high re-emission from surfaces due to higher temperatures also contributed to high concentrations in the summer. In the winter, the atmospheric removal of Hg was slow, but strong winds led to more dispersion, resulting in lower concentrations than the summer. Future studies could use smaller grid sizes and refined emission inventories, for more accurate analysis of source-receptor relationship of atmospheric Hg.

Final-revised paper