American Chemical Society
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Dissolved Black Carbon Facilitates Photoreduction of Hg(II) to Hg(0) and Reduces Mercury Uptake by Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.)

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-08-31, 12:35 authored by Langlang Li, Xuejun Wang, Heyun Fu, Xiaolei Qu, Jiubin Chen, Shu Tao, Dongqiang Zhu
Here, we investigated the photoreduction of Hg­(II) (Hg­(NO3)2) mediated by dissolved black carbon (DBC, <0.45 μm size fraction) collected from water extracts of biochar derived by pyrolyzing crop residues (rice, soybean, and peanut). Under simulated sunlight conditions, the presence of 5 mg C/L DBC significantly facilitated the production of Hg(0) from Hg­(II) (initially at 10 nmol/L) with a reduction ratio of 73 ± 4% in 5.3 h. Inhibition of photolysis-induced reactive oxygen species by a quencher or removal of dissolved oxygen indicated that Hg­(II) was mainly reduced by superoxide anion (O2•–). Reduction by electrons transferred from photoexcited DBC components or by organic free radicals produced from photo-Fenton-like reactions was also proposed to play a role. Contrary to dissolved humic substances, the DBC-mediated photoreduction of Hg­(II) led to unique positive mass-independent isotopic fractionation (MIF) of Hg(0) (Δ199Hg = 1.8 ± 0.3‰), which was attributed to the dominance of secondary Hg­(II) reduction by O2•–. The leachate from soil amended with rice biochar at 1–5% mass ratios exhibited significantly higher photocatalytic efficiency than that from unamended soil (wherein the reduced Hg(0) increased from 27 ± 1 to 63 ± 2% in maximum), and the efficiency positively correlated with the percentage of amended biochar. Under natural illumination conditions, the total mercury and/or methylmercury uptake by roots, shoots, and leaves of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) grown in water extracts of rice biochar-amended soil was consistently lower (up to 70 ± 20%) than that without the biochar amendment. The findings highlight that DBC might play an important and previously unrecognized role in the biogeochemical cycle and the environmental impact of mercury.