Anthropogenic mercury deposition to arctic lake sediments

  • Hermanson M
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Abstract

The history of atmosheric mercury inputs to remote arctic regions can be measured in lake sediment cores using lead210 chronology. In this investigation, total mercury deposition is measured in sediments from Imitavik and Annak Lakes on the Belcher Islands in southeastern Hudson Bay, an area in the southern Canadian Arctic with no history of local industrial or agricultural sources of contamination. Both lakes received background and atmospheric inputs of mercury while Annak also received mercury from raw domestic sewage from the Hamlet of Sanikiluaq, a growing Inuit community of about 550 established in the late 1960’s. Results fromImitavik show that anthropogenic mercury inputs, apparently transported through the atmosphere, began to appear in themideighteenth century, and continued to the 1990’s. Annak had a similar mercury history until the late 1960’s when disposal of domestic sewage led to increased sediment and contaminant accumulation. The high input of mercury to Annak confirms that Sanikiluaq residents are exposed to mercury through native food sources.

Author-supplied keywords

  • arctic
  • atmospheric deposition
  • contaminants
  • lead-210
  • mercury
  • sediment
  • sewage

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Authors

  • Mark H Hermanson

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