Abstract

In spite of significant concerns about Hg contamination and its toxic impacts in the environment, limited studies have been carried out in Korea. The objectives of this study are to investigate the extent and degree of Hg contamination in soil, sediment, dust and sludge from various anthropogenic sources in Korea, and to understand the distribution patterns of Hg in the study areas. The anthropogenic sources of Hg contamination were divided into four major sources: (1) by-product from abandoned Au-Ag mines; (2) coal combustion; (3) cement production; and (4) industrial and domestic discharges. A calculation of enrichment factor and index of geoaccumulation for Hg in soils and sediments indicated that some samples from mining sites were enriched in Hg. In addition, Hg concentrations in marine sediments from industrial sites were above the Effects Range Median (ERM) criteria suggested by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States (NOAA). Therefore, it can be concluded that samples from various sites were directly influenced by anthropogenic sources of Hg in the surface environment.

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