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Article in Press  PDF(13.03 MB)  Supplementary MaterialPDFPDF (235 KB)
doi: 10.4209/aaqr.2016.09.0402   

Characteristics and Sources of Speciated Atmospheric Mercury at a Coastal Site in the East China Sea Region

Lei Zhang1, Long Wang1, Shuxiao Wang1,2, Hongying Dou1, Jianfeng Li1, Shu Li1, Jiming Hao1,2

1 School of Environment, and State Key Joint Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and Pollution Control, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
2 State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Sources and Control of Air Pollution Complex, Beijing 100084, China


  • Diurnal patterns of speciated Hg show downward mixing of enhanced TGM aloft.
  • Repartitioning of reactive Hg from particles to the air is a major RGM source.
  • Industrial pollution in the North China Plain region is a major TGM contributor.
  • Biomass burning in North and Northeast China is a major Hg source in autumn.
  • Low-altitude Hg outflow from East China to North America mostly ascended.



Atmospheric mercury is a global concern due to its ability of long-range transport. In order to understand the characteristics and sources of speciated mercury in the East China Sea region, a coastal monitoring site was established on Chongming Island in Shanghai, China. Total gaseous mercury (TGM), reactive gaseous mercury (RGM) and particulate-bound mercury (PHg) were monitored during 2009–2012. The overall average TGM, RGM and PHg concentrations were 2.65 ± 1.73 ng m–3, 8.0 ± 8.8 pg m–3 and 21.5 ± 25.4 pg m–3, respectively. TGM has a sharp increase at 5:00 in the morning and reaches peak at about 8:00, which is probably caused by the downward mixing of enhanced TGM aloft originated from regional sources. Wind roses suggest that urban Shanghai area has a considerable contribution to TGM in Chongming. Repartitioning of reactive mercury from particles to the air under the influence of air temperature could be one major source of RGM. Four heavy mercury pollution episodes were selected for source analysis. Mercury pollution in the summer event is mainly from the southwest direction with high ∆TGM/∆CO ratio and has the most influence on the North China Plain (NCP) region. The winter event is mainly under the influence of industrial pollution from the NCP region. The autumn event is contributed by both industrial pollution and biomass burning in North and Northeast China exhibiting a lower slope of ∆PHg/∆TGM. Springtime Asian long-range transport (ALRT) is crucial to the mercury background of North America. However, in the spring event identified in this study the mercury outflow from low altitude through East China mostly ascended to high altitude during the transpacific airmass transport. This provides an important incentive for future studies to focus on the way of mercury outflow from East Asia.



Keywords: Speciated mercury; East China Sea region; Reactive mercury partitioning; HYSPLIT trajectories; Outflow.



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