Observational Evidence for Involvement of Nitrate Radicals in Nighttime Oxidation of Mercury

Mordechai Peleg*, Eran Tas, Daniel Obrist, Valeri Matveev, Christopher Moore, Maor Gabay, Menachem Luria

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the atmosphere, reactive forms of mercury species can be produced by oxidation of the dominant gaseous elemental mercury (GEM). The oxidation of GEM is an important driver for deposition, but oxidation pathways currently are poorly constrained and likely differ among regions. In this study, continuous measurements of atmospheric nitrate radical (NO3) concentrations and mercury speciation (i.e., elemental and reactive, oxidized forms) were performed during a six week period in the urban air shed of Jerusalem, Israel during summer 2012, to investigate the potential nighttime contribution of nitrate radicals to oxidized mercury formation. Average nighttime concentrations of reactive gaseous mercury (RGM) were almost equivalent to daytime levels (25 pg m-3 and 27 pg m-3 respectively), in contrast to early morning and evening RGM levels which dropped to low levels (9 and 13 pg m-3). During daytime, the presence of RGM was increased when solar radiation exceeded 200 W m-2, suggesting a photochemical process for daytime RGM formation. Ozone concentrations were largely unrelated to daytime RGM. Nighttime RGM concentrations were relatively high (with a maximum of 97 pg m-3) compared to nighttime levels in other urban regions. A strong correlation was observed between nighttime RGM concentrations and nitrate radical concentration (R2 averaging 0.47), while correlations to other variables were weak (e.g., RH; R2 = 0.35) or absent (e.g., ozone, wind speed and direction, pollution tracers such as CO or SO2). Detailed analyses suggest that advection processes or tropospheric influences were unlikely to explain the strong nighttime correlations between NO3 and RGM, although these processes may contribute to these relationships. Our observations suggest that NO3 radicals may play a role in RGM formation, possibly due to a direct chemical involvement in GEM oxidation. Since physical data, however, suggest that NO3 unlikely initiates GEM oxidation, NO3 may play a secondary role in GEM oxidation through the addition to an unstable Hg(I) radical species.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)14008-14018
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume49
Issue number24
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 American Chemical Society.

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