Relative Reactivity and Bioavailability of Mercury Sorbed to or Coprecipitated with Aged Iron Sulfides.
The potential for inorganic mercury (Hg) to be converted to methylmercury depends, in part, on the chemical form of Hg and its bioavailability to anaerobic microorganisms that can methylate Hg. In anaerobic settings, Hg can be associated with sulfide phases, including ferrous iron sulfide (FeS), which can sorb or be coprecipitated with Hg. The objective of this study was to determine if the aging state of FeS alters the Hg coordination environment as well as the reactivity and bioavailability of sorbed and coprecipitated Hg species. FeS particles were synthesized with and without Hg2+
and aged in anaerobic conditions for multiple time frames spanning from 1 h to 1 month. For FeS particles synthesized without Hg, Hg2+
was subsequently sorbed to the FeS for 1 day. Analysis of Hg speciation of these materials by X-ray absorption near edge spectroscopy revealed a predominance of four-coordinate Hg-S species in the sorbed Hg-FeS solids and a mixture of two- and four-coordinate Hg-S in the coprecipitated Hg-FeS. The leaching potential of the Hg was assessed by exposing the particles to a solution of dissolved glutathione (a thiolate-based Hg chelator). As expected, the sorbed Hg-FeS released more soluble Hg compared to the coprecipitated Hg-FeS. However, when these particles were exposed to Desulfovibrio desulfuricans ND132 (a known Hg methylator), more Hg was methylated from the coprecipitated Hg-FeS than the sorbed Hg-FeS, consistent with expectations from the Hg-S coordination state and inconsistent with the selective leaching results. Overall, these results suggest that the bioavailability of particulate Hg cannot be easily discerned by its leaching potential into bulk solution. Rather, bioavailability entails more subtle interactions at particle-cell interfaces and perhaps correlates with the local Hg-S coordination state in the particles.
Rivera, NA; Bippus, PM; Hsu-Kim, H
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