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Abstract Title: Mercury Methylation Potentials in The Wabigoon River System
Presenter Name: Beatriz Bento
Company/Institution: Trent University
Session: Mercury in Contaminated Sites
Day and Session: Thursday 28th July - Session Two
Start Time: 10:00 UTC
Co-Authors: Beatriz Bento

Abstract Information :

The Wabigoon River is known for an historic mercury (Hg) pollution source, caused by a chlor-alkali facility operating in the 60?s. To these days, the legacy Hg contamination continues to cause serious adverse health effects for the First Nations that live on the shore of the river. Methylmercury is one of the most toxic mercury species because it bioaccumulates in the food chain, attaining its highest concentrations in the tissues of top predatory fish due to biomagnifications through the trophic levels. These contaminated fish are the main pathway of mercury contamination in humans. That said, the tendency of an environment to produce methylmercury from inorganic mercury is important in determining the potential impact of Hg on human health and the environment. To understand which areas within the system are the main contributors to MMHg formation and are therefore negatively impacting the communities in the area, methylation potentials at the different locations along the river system were investigated. Freshly collected water samples were incubated with isotope enriched Hg(II) to trace mercury methylation. The methylation potential is defined as the variation (increase of MMHg from the added Hg(II) spike) over time. This work establishes for the first time, Hg methylation potentials in several ecosystems across the Wabigoon River System, discerning risk areas for MMHg production.

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