Gaseous Mercury Release during Steam Curing of Aerated Concretes That Contain Fly Ash and Activated Carbon Sorbent

Gaseous mercury released from aerated concrete during both presteam curing at 25 °C and steam curing at 80 °C was measured in controlled laboratory experiments. Mercury release originated from two major components in the concrete mixture: (1) class F coal fly ash and (2) a mixture of the fly ash and powdered activated carbon onto which elemental mercury was adsorbed. Mercury emitted during each curing cycle was collected on iodated carbon traps in a purge-and-trap arrangement and subsequently measured by cold-vapor atomic fluorescence spectrometry. Through 3 h of presteam curing, the release of mercury from the freshly prepared mixture was less than 0.03 ng/kg of concrete. Releases of total mercury over the 21 h steam curing process ranged from 0.4 to 5.8 ng of mercury/kg of concrete and depended upon mercury concentrations in the concrete. The steam-cured concrete had a higher mercury release rate (ng kg<sup>−1</sup> h<sup>−1</sup>) compared to air-cured concrete containing fly ash, but the shorter curing interval resulted in less total release of mercury from the steam-cured concrete. The mercury flux from exposed concrete surfaces to mercury-free air ranged from 0.77 to 11.1 ng m<sup>−2</sup> h<sup>−1</sup>, which was similar to mercury fluxes for natural soils to ambient air of 4.2 ng m<sup>−2</sup> h<sup>−1</sup> reported by others. Less than 0.022% of the total quantity of mercury present from all mercury sources in the concrete was released during the curing process, and therefore, nearly all of the mercury was retained in the concrete.