Research Article

Mass-Dependent and -Independent Fractionation of Hg Isotopes by Photoreduction in Aquatic Systems

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Science  19 Oct 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5849, pp. 417-420
DOI: 10.1126/science.1148050

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Mercury (Hg) isotopes can be used as tracers of Hg biogeochemical pathways in the environment. The photochemical reduction of aqueous Hg species by natural sunlight leads to both mass-dependent fractionation (MDF) of Hg isotopes and mass-independent fractionation (MIF) of the odd-mass isotopes, with the relation between the MIF for the two odd isotopes being distinct for different photoreduction pathways. Large variations in MDF and MIF are observed in fish and provide new insights into the sources and bioaccumulation of Hg in food webs. MIF in fish can also be used to estimate the loss of methylmercury via photoreduction in aquatic ecosytems.

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