American Chemical Society
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Increases of Total Mercury and Methylmercury Releases from Municipal Sewage into Environment in China and Implications

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-12-07, 00:00 authored by Maodian Liu, Peng Du, Chenghao Yu, Yipeng He, Haoran Zhang, Xuejun Sun, Huiming Lin, Yao Luo, Han Xie, Junming Guo, Yindong Tong, Qianggong Zhang, Long Chen, Wei Zhang, Xiqing Li, Xuejun Wang
As a globally transported pollutant, mercury (Hg) released from human activity and methylmercury (MeHg) in the food web are global concerns due to their increasing presence in the environment. In this study, we found that Hg released from municipal sewage into the environment in China is a substantial anthropogenic source based on mass sampling throughout China. In total, 160 Mg (140–190 Mg, from the 20th percentile to the 80th percentile) of Hg (THg) and 280 kg (240–330 kg) of MeHg were released from municipal sewage in China in 2015. The quantities of released THg and MeHg were the most concentrated in the coastal regions, especially in the East, North and South China regions. However, the per capita release of THg and MeHg was the highest in the Tibetan region, which is recognized as the cleanest region in China. THg released into aquatic environments was mitigated from 2001 to 2015 in China, but the amounts released into other sinks increased. This study provides the first picture of the release of Hg from municipal sewage into various sinks in China, and policy makers should pay more attention to the diversity and complexity of the sources and transport of Hg, which can lead to Hg accumulation in the food web and can threaten human health.