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Water 2015, 7(11), 6097-6116;

Analysis of Sources and Sinks of Mercury in the Urban Water Cycle of Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Department of Environmental Analytical Chemistry, Institute of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, J.W. Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Altenhöferallee 1, Frankfurt am Main 60438, Germany
Stadtentwässerung Frankfurt am Main, Goldsteinstraße 160, Frankfurt am Main 60528, Germany
Umweltbundesamt, Paul-Ehrlich-Str. 29, Langen 63225, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Peter J. Coombes
Received: 6 August 2015 / Revised: 21 October 2015 / Accepted: 23 October 2015 / Published: 4 November 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Water Challenges)
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Mercury (Hg) is still a focus of environmental research, since its levels in fish frequently exceed the Environmental Quality Standard (EQS) of 20 µg/kg for biota defined by the European Water Framework Directive (Directive 2008/105/EC). Current Hg levels in Abramis brama from German rivers are in the range of 73–346 µg/kg wet weight (2009) and exceed the EQS by a factor of 3.7–17.3. Therefore, it is important to identify the sources of Hg pollution in the aquatic environment and to develop effective strategies for reducing the input into associated river systems. The aim of the present study was to analyze Hg in the urban water cycle of the city of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Samples were taken from the river Main crosscutting the city and its tributaries. In addition, precipitation, stormwater runoff, effluents of two municipal WWTPs, and stormwater management structures such as combined sewer overflows and stormwater retention basins have been analyzed. Loads of Hg have been determined based on the measured concentrations and a Hg mass balance for the aquatic system was created. A total of 160 water samples were analyzed by cold vapor atomic fluorescence spectroscopy (CVAFS) according to US EPA Method 1631. Results from the mass balance have shown that approximately 5 kg Hg/a enter and 15 kg Hg/a leave the study area of Frankfurt am Main via the river Main. The largest amount of Hg (24.58 kg/a) throughout the urban water cycle of Frankfurt am Main is transported via wastewater. However, municipal WWTPs in Frankfurt am Main have been identified as the largest Hg sink, since 99.7% (24.5 kg/a) of the Hg is shifted from the sewage water and stormwater during treatment into the sewage sludge. Thus, the increase of the Hg load in the river Main from 5 to 15 kg/a has to be attributed to other sources such as 3 industrial WWTPs, groundwater and non-treated stormwater runoff during heavy rain events. View Full-Text
Keywords: Mercury; urban water cycle; wastewater treatment plants; precipitation; sewage sludge Mercury; urban water cycle; wastewater treatment plants; precipitation; sewage sludge

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Fricke, I.; Götz, R.; Schleyer, R.; Püttmann, W. Analysis of Sources and Sinks of Mercury in the Urban Water Cycle of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Water 2015, 7, 6097-6116.

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