Legacy source of mercury in an urban stream-wetland ecosystem in central North Carolina, USA

Amrika Deonarine, Heileen Hsu-Kim, Tong Zhang, Yong Cai, Curtis J. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


In the United States, aquatic mercury contamination originates from point and non-point sources to watersheds. Here, we studied the contribution of mercury in urban runoff derived from historically contaminated soils and the subsequent production of methylmercury in a stream-wetland complex (Durham, North Carolina), the receiving water of this runoff. Our results demonstrated that the mercury originated from the leachate of grass-covered athletic fields. A fraction of mercury in this soil existed as phenylmercury, suggesting that mercurial anti-fungal compounds were historically applied to this soil. Further downstream in the anaerobic sediments of the stream-wetland complex, a fraction (up to 9%) of mercury was converted to methylmercury, the bioaccumulative form of the metal. Importantly, the concentrations of total mercury and methylmercury were reduced to background levels within the stream-wetland complex. Overall, this work provides an example of a legacy source of mercury that should be considered in urban watershed models and watershed management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16430
Pages (from-to)960-965
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Fungicide
  • Mercury
  • Methylmercury
  • Phenylmercury
  • Urban runoff
  • Wetland


Dive into the research topics of 'Legacy source of mercury in an urban stream-wetland ecosystem in central North Carolina, USA'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this