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ORIGIN AND FATE OF METHYLMERCURY

Objective

AIM OF THIS RESEARCH IS TO INVESTIGATE TO WHAT EXTEND BIOTIC AND ABIOTIC PROCESSES ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FORMATION OF METHYLMERCURY OBSERVED IN FRESHWATER AND MARINE ORGANISMS.

THIS PROJECT IS BASED ON AN INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO COMPARE MICROBIOLOGICALLY, ECOLOGICALLY AND GEOCHEMICALLY THREE ECOSYSTEMS:
- A "HIGH MERCURY ZONE
A CONTROL ZONE
A ZONE CONTAMINATED BY ANTHROPOGENIC MERCURYRELEASE. IN THESE ECOSYSTEMS FRESWATER, SEAWATER, PARTICULATE MATTER, SEDIMENTS AND BIOTA WILL BE INVESTIGATED. THE SPECIMEN OBTAINED WILL BE ANALYZED FOR TOTAL MERCURY, METHYLMERCURY AND OTHER MERCURY SPECIES. HOWEVER, IT IS NECESSARY TO FIRST DEVELOP NEW ANALYTIC PROCEDURES FOR THE DETERMINATION OF MERCURY SPECIES IN PLANTS AND HERBIVORES. THE ANALYSIS OF THESE MATRICES ARE STILL PRESENTING PROBLEMS. SPECIAL EFFORTS WILL BE DEVOTED TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF A NEW METHOD SUITABLE TO DETERMINE MERCURY SPECIES AT VERY LOW CONCENTRATIONS (NG-L) KNOWN TO OCCUR IN NATURAL WATERS. INTERCALIBRATION OF ANALYTICAL METHODS BETWEEN PARTICIPATING GROUPS WILL BE CARRIED OUT IN ORDER TO OBTAIN COMPARABILITY OF RESULTS. IN ADDITION, EXPERIMENTS WILL BE UNDERTAKEN IN MARINE MODEL ECOSYSTEMS IN ORDER TO OBTAIN MORE CONFINED INFORMATION ON BIOACCUMUALTION, LOSS, TRANSFER, AND TRANSFORMATION OF MERCURY SPECIES. FOR THESE INVESTIGATIONS THE EXPERIMENTAL SET-UP DEVELOPED BY THE KFA JUELICH WILL BE USED. IN THESE EXPERIMENTS RADIOTRACERS WILL BE EMPLOYED AND CONCENTRATIONS OF BOTH TRACER AND STABLE ISOTOPES WILL BE FOLLOWED IN THE RELEVANT MATRICES.

DETAILED PROGRAMME:
1.- DEVELOPMENT OF ANALYTICAL METHODS FOR THE DETERMINATION AND QUANTIFICATION OF INORGANIC AND ORGANIC SPECIES IN FRESHWATER, SEAWATER PARTICULATE MATTER, SEDIMENTS AND BIOTA.

2.- TRANSFER OF ANALYTICAL KNOW-HOW FROM JUELICH TO GENOVA AND LA SPEZIA AND VICE-VERSA. IN PARTICULAR ANALYTICAL METHODS FOR METHYLMERCURY.

3.- INTERCALIBRATIONS OF METHODS DEVELOPED BY PARTICIPATING GROUPS BY EXCHANGE OF REFERENCE STANDARD SAMPLES OF DIFFERENT MATRICES.

4.- SAMPLING IN THREE ZONES:
- MERCURY GEOCHEMICAL ANOMALY (MT AMIATA)
- AREA CONTAMINATED BY MERCURY RELEASE FROM CHLOR-ALKALI PLANT (SOLVAY, ROSIGNANO)
- CONTROL AREA WITH LOW MERCURY BACKGROUND LEVEL (TO BE DECIDED) FOR FRESHWATER, SEAWATER, PARTICULATE MATTER, SEDIMENTS AND BIOTA REPRESENTING DIFFERENT LEVELS IN ECOLOGICAL IMPORTANT TERRESTRIAL AND MARINE FOOD CHAINES.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

Università degli Studi di Genova
Address
Via Brigata Salerno Ponte
16147 Genova
Italy