Isotopic Composition of Gaseous Elemental Mercury in the Marine Boundary Layer of East China Sea

Xuewu Fu, Xu Yang, Qingyou Tan, Lili Ming, Tian Lin, Che Jen Lin, Xiangdong Li, Xinbin Feng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Characterizing the speciation and isotope signatures of atmospheric mercury (Hg) downwind of mainland China is critical to understanding the outflow of Hg emission and the contributing sources. In this study, we measured the concentrations of gaseous elemental mercury (GEM), particulate bound mercury, gaseous oxidized mercury, and the GEM isotopic composition in the marine boundary layer of East China Sea from October 2013 to January 2014. Mean (±1σ) GEM, particulate bound mercury, and gaseous oxidized mercury concentrations were 2.25 ± 1.03 ng/m3, 26 ± 38 pg/m3, and 8 ± 10 pg/m3, respectively. Most events of elevated GEM are associated with the outflow of Hg emissions in mainland China. The 24- and 48-hr integrated GEM samples showed large variations in both δ202Hg (−1.63‰ to 0.34‰) and Δ199Hg (−0.26‰ to −0.02‰). GEM δ202Hg and Δ199Hg were negatively and positively correlated to its atmospheric concentrations, respectively, suggesting a binary physical mixing of regional background GEM and Hg emissions in mainland China. Using a binary mixing model, highly negative δ202Hg (−1.79 ± 0.24‰, 1σ) and near-zero Δ199Hg (0.02 ± 0.04‰, 1σ) signatures for China GEM emissions are predicted. Such isotopic signatures are significantly different from those found in North America and Europe and the background global/regional atmospheric GEM pool. It is likely that emissions from industrial and residential coal combustion (lacking conventional air pollutant control devices), cement and mercury production, biomass burning, and soil emissions contributed significantly to the estimated isotope signatures of GEM emissions in China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7656-7669
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2018


  • atmospheric mercury species
  • marine boundary layer
  • mercury isotope

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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