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.
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