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Air/Surface Exchange of Gaseous Elemental Mercury at Different Landscapes in Mississippi, USA
Open AccessCommunication

Can the MerPAS Passive Air Sampler Discriminate Landscape, Seasonal, and Elevation Effects on Atmospheric Mercury? A Feasibility Study in Mississippi, USA

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS 38677, USA
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Atmosphere 2019, 10(10), 617; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos10100617
Received: 16 August 2019 / Revised: 10 October 2019 / Accepted: 10 October 2019 / Published: 12 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Mercury: Sources, Sinks, and Transformations)
Accurately measuring gaseous elemental mercury (GEM) concentrations in the atmosphere is important to understand its sources, cycling, distribution, and temporal trends. The MerPAS passive air sampler from Tekran Inc. (Toronto, ON, Canada) captures GEM on sulfur-impregnated activated carbon after it passes through a Radeillo diffusive barrier. Because they are small, relatively low in cost, and require no power, they can be deployed at multiple locations, yielding a much greater spatial resolution, albeit at coarser temporal resolution, compared to active sampling. In this study, we used the MerPAS to measure GEM concentration gradients at a mixed hardwood forest, wetland, pond, and a mowed (grass) field, all within close proximity (<500 m) to each other. Vertical profiles (0.5, 3.0, 5.5 m) were assessed during summer and winter. The sorbent was analyzed using a direct mercury analyzer. The samplers were captured between 0.90 to 2.2 ng over 2 weeks, well above the mean blank of 0.14 ng. We observed differences between the landscapes, elevation, and seasons. Nearest to the surface, GEM concentrations were lowest in the wetland (both seasons), where there was dense vegetation, and highest in the mowed field (both seasons). Generally, GEM levels increased with the elevation above the ground, except for the forest where the trend was slightly reversed. This suggests a possible net GEM deposition from the atmosphere to surfaces for three of the four landscapes. GEM concentrations were slightly higher in the winter than the summer at 5.5 m height where air masses were unimpeded by vegetation. Overall, we conclude that the MerPAS is indeed capable of measuring GEM gradients between landscapes, elevations, and seasons, if given sufficient collection time, good analytical precision, and low blank levels. View Full-Text
Keywords: passive sampler; gaseous mercury; forest; wetland; pond; mowed field; seasonal trend; vertical profile; outdoor air passive sampler; gaseous mercury; forest; wetland; pond; mowed field; seasonal trend; vertical profile; outdoor air
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Jeon, B.; Cizdziel, J.V. Can the MerPAS Passive Air Sampler Discriminate Landscape, Seasonal, and Elevation Effects on Atmospheric Mercury? A Feasibility Study in Mississippi, USA. Atmosphere 2019, 10, 617.

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