Insights on Chemistry of Mercury Species in Clouds over Northern China: Complexation and Adsorption

Tao Li, Yan Wang, Huiting Mao, Shuxiao Wang, Robert W. Talbot, Ying Zhou, Zhe Wang, Xiaoling Nie, Guanghao Qie

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Cloud effects on heterogeneous reactions of atmospheric mercury (Hg) are poorly understood due to limited knowledge of cloudwater Hg chemistry. Here we quantified Hg species in cloudwater at the summit of Mt. Tai in northern China. Total mercury (THg) and methylmercury (MeHg) in cloudwater were on average 70.5 and 0.15 ng L-1, respectively, and particulate Hg (PHg) contributed two-thirds of THg. Chemical equilibrium modeling simulations suggested that Hg complexes by dissolved organic matter (DOM) dominated dissolved Hg (DHg) speciation, which was highly pH dependent. Hg concentrations and speciation were altered by cloud processing, during which significant positive correlations of PHg and MeHg with cloud droplet number concentration (Nd) were observed. Unlike direct contribution to PHg from cloud scavenging of aerosol particles, abiotic DHg methylation was the most likely source of MeHg. Hg adsorption coefficients Kad(5.9-362.7 L g-1) exhibited an inverse-power relationship with cloud residues content. Morphology analyses indicated that compared to mineral particles, fly ash particles could enhance Hg adsorption due to more abundant carbon binding sites on the surface. Severe particulate air pollution in northern China may bring substantial Hg into cloud droplets and impact atmospheric Hg geochemical cycling by aerosol-cloud interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5125-5134
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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