SREL Reprint #2799

 

 

 

Influence of methylmercury from tributary streams on mercury levels in Savannah River Asiatic clams

M. H. Paller1, C. H. Jagoe2, H. Bennett3, H. A. Brant2, and J. A. Bowers1

1Environmental Analysis Section, Westinghouse Savannah River Company, Building 773-42A,
Savannah River Site, Aiken, SC 29808, USA
2Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, University of Georgia, Drawer E, Aiken, SC 29802, USA
3Department of Biology, University of South Carolina at Aiken, Aiken, SC 29803, USA

Abstract: Average methylmercury levels in five Savannah River tributary streams, sampled 11 times over 2 years (0.170 ng/l), were nearly twice as high as in the Savannah River (0.085 ng/l). Total mercury levels in the tributaries (2.98 ng/l) did not differ significantly from the river (2.59 ng/l). All of the tributaries drained extensive wetlands that would be expected to support comparatively high rates of methylation. Mercury concentrations in Asiatic clams (Corbicula fluminea) collected from the discharge plumes of Savannah River tributaries (average of 0.044 µg/g wet weight) were significantly (P<0.001) higher than in Asiatic clams collected from the Savannah River upstream from the tributary mouths (average of 0.017 µg/g wet weight). These results indicate that streams draining wetlands into coastal plain rivers can create localized areas of elevated methylmercury with resulting increases in the mercury levels of river biota.

SREL Reprint #2799

Paller, M. H., C. H. Jagoe, H. Bennett, H. A. Brant, and J. A. Bowers. 2004. Influence of methylmercury from tributary streams on mercury levels in Savannah River Asiatic clams. Science of the Total Environment 325:209-219.

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