Spatial distribution and historical records of mercury sedimentation in urban lakes under urbanization impacts

Hong-Bo LI, Shen YU, Gui-Lin LI, Hong DENG, Bo XU, Jing DING, Jin-Bo GAO, You-Wei HONG, Ming Hung WONG

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14 Citations (Scopus)


China is assumed one of the largest contributors to the world's total mercury (Hg) emissions, with a rapid increase in anthropogenic Hg emissions. However, little is known about Hg fate and transport in urban areas of China. In this study, total Hg contents in surface (0-5cm) sediments from lakes in 14 parks (3 in the central urban core (CUC) area, 5 in the developed urban (DDU) area, 2 in the developing urban (DIU) area, and 4 in the suburban (SU) area) and 210Pb-dated sediment cores from lakes in 5 parks (3 in the CUC and 2 in the DDU) in Shanghai were assessed to compare current patterns (urbanization effect) with the historical records of Hg emissions over the past century. Total Hg content in surface sediments showed a clear urbanization pattern. Dated sediment cores revealed a 2-3 fold increase in total Hg content, while Hg fluxes exponentially increased from ~1900 to present and accelerated since 1990 when China's economy and urbanization booms started. Anthropogenic Hg fluxes in post-2000 ranged from 253 to 1452μgm-2yr-1, 2-7 times greater than preindustrial (pre-1900) Hg fluxes. Total Hg and Pb contents in both surface sediments and sediment cores were highly correlated and Hg flux in sediment cores also significantly correlated with annual coal consumption in the period 1949-2008. The significant correlations suggest that coal combustion is a major source of Hg emission in Shanghai. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-125
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date14 Jan 2013
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2013



Li, H.-B., Yu, S., Li, G.-L., Deng, H., Xu, B., Ding, J., . . . Wong, M.-H. (2013). Spatial distribution and historical records of mercury sedimentation in urban lakes under urbanization impacts. Science of The Total Environment, 445-446, 117-125. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.12.041


  • Mercury
  • Surface sediment
  • Sediment core
  • Coal combustion
  • Urban lake
  • Urbanization