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Student Research Projects

Adsorption of reactive gaseous mercury onto sea-salt aerosols

Student Tara Redding
Faculty Mentor(s) Dr. Elizabeth Malcolm
Department Earth and Environmental Sciences
Course EES 489: Research in the Natural Sciences

Abstract

Mercury is a toxic metal that attacks the central nervous system. Many watersheds nationwide, including the Chesapeake Bay, have fish consumption advisories due to mercury. Reactive gaseous mercury (RGM) is one of the main species of mercury in the atmosphere. RGM that is deposited from the atmosphere into watersheds can accumulate in fish as methylmercury. I am testing the hypothesis that RGM deposition may be increased if it adsorbs onto sea-salt aerosols along coastal ecosystems. In this research project, RGM adsorption by seal salt is being measured by passing air through sodium chloride sampling surfaces. Preliminary results indicate that RGM does adsorb onto sea-salt aerosols, which may enhance mercury deposition into local watersheds.

Supported by: Jeffress Memorial Trust

 

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