Effects of Long Term Hg Contamination on Soil Mercury Speciation and Soil Biological Activities
1 Dipartimento Scienze Agrarie ed Ambientali, University of Udine, Udine, ITALY
2 Agenzia per la Protezione dell’Ambiente del Friuli Venezia Giulia, ARPA FVG, Palmanova, UD, ITALY
The suspended matter discharged by the Isonzo river has carried over, for centuries, heavily contaminated mine spoils from the Idrija mercury mining site (Slovenija). A frequently flooded area at the confluence of the Isonzo and Torre rivers was chosen for a preliminary study on the effects of long term mercury pollution on soil biological activities, Hg speciation and plant bioavailability. Soil mercury contamination reached up to about 80 μg g–1 near the banks of Isonzo river and decreased down to about 0.2 μg g–1 near the Torre river, with the predominance of mercuric sulfide and elemental mercury. Soil microbial biomass was not adversely affected by Hg contamination as most soil biological activities, with the exception of arylsulphatase and acid phosphatase, which showed significant negative trends against total mercury and its fractions. Two plant genres (Arum spp. and Rubus spp.) were collected in four different places: Rubus spp. showed the largest uptake capacity of mercury (about 1 μg g–1). Long term mercury contamination does not seem to constitute a stressing factor for soil biological activities but remains nevertheless a concern for its transfer through the food chain.
Key words: Mercury / Idrija mine / Hg speciation / soil microbial biomass / soil biological activity / plant Hg uptake
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2013
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