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Mercury Export from Mainland China to Adjacent Seas and Its Influence on the Marine Mercury Balance

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journal contribution
posted on 31.05.2016, 00:00 authored by Maodian Liu, Long Chen, Xuejun Wang, Wei Zhang, Yindong Tong, Langbo Ou, Han Xie, Huizhong Shen, Xuejie Ye, Chunyan Deng, Huanhuan Wang
Exports from mainland China are a significant source of mercury (Hg) in the adjacent seas (Bohai Sea, Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and South China Sea) near China. A total of 240 ± 23 Mg was contributed in 2012 (30% from natural sources and 70% from anthropogenic sources), including Hg from rivers, industrial wastewater, domestic sewage, groundwater, nonpoint sources, and coastal erosion. Among the various sources, the Hg from rivers amounts to 160 ± 21 Mg and plays a dominant role. The Hg that is exported from mainland China increased from 1984 to 2013; the contributions from rivers, industrial wastewater, domestic sewage and groundwater increased, and the contributions from nonpoint sources and coastal erosion remained stable. A box model is constructed to simulate the mass balance of Hg in these seas and quantify the sources, sinks and Hg biogeochemical cycle in the seas. In total, 160 Mg of Hg was transported to the Pacific Ocean and other oceans from these seas through oceanic currents in 2012, which could have negative impacts on the marine ecosystem. A prediction of the changes in Hg exportation through 2030 shows that the impacts of terrestrial export might worsen without effective pollution reduction measures and that the Hg load in these seas will increase, especially in the seawater of the Bohai Sea, Yellow Sea, and East China Sea and in the sea margin sediments of the Bohai Sea and East China Sea.