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1 August 2003 Biogeochemistry of Mercury in the Amazonian Environment
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Abstract
In this paper, the processes that affect mercury (Hg) cycling in the Amazonian environment were reviewed, criticized and new directions of research are proposed. The discussion of the origin of the mercury contamination, whether natural or anthropogenic is marked by a lack of fundamented arguments from both sides. Undoubtedly mercury inputs from gold mining have locally increased environmental concentrations, but in the whole Amazon, these loads would be insignificant, considering the high concentrations observed by some authors in remote soils. A reasonable process that should explain these elevated concentrations in soil is that B horizons function as a mercury “sponge” that have been accumulating mercury over a geological time scale, releasing it back to cycling during erosion and forest fires. The environmental degradation of the Amazonian forest due to human activities is probably enhancing the release of that mercury to the cycle. Mercury transformations in reduced, anoxic environments—sediments and waters—are also a key problem for the understanding of the environmental methylation. The studies that have been carried out in the Amazonian environment are too restricted and results permit only circumstantial conclusions. Large efforts must be directed to monitoring programs considering time and space variability.
Julio Cesar Wasserman, Sandra Hacon and Maria Angélica Wasserman "Biogeochemistry of Mercury in the Amazonian Environment," AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment 32(5), (1 August 2003). https://doi.org/10.1579/0044-7447-32.5.336
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