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publications > paper > constants for mercury binding by dissolved organic matter isolates from the florida everglades

Constants for Mercury Binding by Dissolved Organic Matter Isolates from the Florida Everglades

J.M. Benoit, R.P. Mason, C.C. Gilmour, and G.R. Aiken
Published in: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 2001, v. 65, no. 24, p. 4445-4451

Note: Entire paper is available from the Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta website (journal membership required)


Dissolved organic matter (DOM) has been implicated as an important complexing agent for Hg that can affect its mobility and bioavailability in aquatic ecosystems. However, binding constants for natural Hg-DOM complexes are not well known. We employed a competitive ligand approach to estimate conditional stability constants for Hg complexes with DOM isolates collected from Florida Everglades surface waters. The isolates examined were the hydrophobic fraction of DOM from a eutrophic, sulfidic site (F1-HPoA) and the hydrophilic fraction from an oligotrophic, low-sulfide site (2BS-HPiA). Our experimental determinations utilized overall octanol-water partitioning coefficients ( Dow ) for 203Hg at 0.01 M chloride and across pH and DOM concentration gradients. Use of this radioisotope allowed rapid determinations of Hg concentrations in both water and octanol phases without problems of matrix interference.

Conditional stability constants (I = 0.06, 23°C) were log K´ = 11.8 for F1-HPoA and log K´ = 10.6 for 2BS-HPiA. These are similar to previously published stability constants for Hg binding to low-molecular-weight thiols. Further, F1-HPoA showed a pH-dependent decline in Dow that was consistent with models of Hg complexation with thiol groups as the dominant Hg binding sites in DOM. These experiments demonstrate that the DOM isolates are stronger ligands for Hg than chloride ion or ethylenediamine-tetraacetic acid. Speciation calculations indicate that at the DOM concentrations frequently measured in Everglades, 20 to 40 µM, significant complexation of Hg by DOM would be expected in aerobic (sulfide-free) surface waters.

Related information:

SOFIA Project: Interactions of Mercury with Dissolved Organic Carbon in the Florida Everglades

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