Environmental science and pollution research international

Short-term impact of reservoir impoundment on the patterns of mercury distribution in a subtropical aquatic ecosystem, Wujiang River, southwest China.

PMID 23589236


Surveys on pre- and post-impoundment total mercury concentrations in water, seston and fish were conducted during 2007-2008 in the Wujiang River, southwest China. Compared with the pre-impoundment, total mercury in the reservoir and downstream water rapidly increased by 164-303 % during the first half year of flooding, and then decreased by 61.7-62.2 % after 9 months of flooding. However, total mercury in seston from the reservoir and downstream generally declined. There was no significant difference in the total mercury between reservoir fish with different habitat preference and feeding habit. We find that fish tissue mercury concentration significantly increased threefold after flooding, and the increasing rate is lower than those in subarctic and temperate reservoirs. The pre- and post-impoundment fish samples exceeding the Chinese hygienic standard for tolerances of mercury in foods increased from 1.3 to 17.4 %. Long-term monitoring of fish mercury level in Wujiang River should be undertaken to ensure local food security.