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Abstract Title: Characteristics of mercury distribution in the aquatic ecosystem of South Africa: current status and future needs
Presenter Name: Vernon Somerset
Company/Institution: Cape Peninsula University of Technology
Session: Special Session - Mercury in the Southern Hemisphere
Day and Session: Wednesday 27th July - Session One
Start Time: 07:00 UTC
Co-Authors: Vernon Somerset,Chavon Walters

Abstract Information :

In South Africa the magnitude of mercury (Hg) pollution was relatively low on the agenda in 2000, although a study by Pacina et al. [1] has ranked the country as the second highest anthropogenic Hg emitter. This data was largely based on the Hg emissions from coal combustion and artisanal gold mining, reporting that South Africa contributes more than 10% to the global Hg emission budget. South African scientists have since then conducted further investigations and have reported that Hg emissions are significantly lower than previously reported [2]. During a later review conducted for the South African environment in 2011, it was found that the Hg concentrations were generally higher in the watersheds closely located to the coal-fired power stations and artisanal gold mining activities [3]. In recent years the watersheds in South Africa have been impacted by global environmental change, which has caused severe floods and draughts. Increased anthropogenic activities are believed to have impacted on Hg concentrations in water, sediment and biota. With the high reliance on electricity generated by coal-fired power stations, changes in atmospheric Hg deposition to the aquatic ecosystems have occurred, resulting in flux changes of Hg across the sediment?water interface, water-air interface and water-biota transfer.
This paper aims to review the changes that has occurred and identify the status of the impacted aquatic environment and how it may impact on human health.

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