Evaluating the role of re-adsorption of dissolved Hg(2+) during cinnabar dissolution using isotope tracer technique

J Hazard Mater. 2016 Nov 5;317:466-475. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2016.05.084. Epub 2016 Jun 2.


Cinnabar dissolution is an important factor controlling mercury (Hg) cycling. Recent studies have suggested the co-occurrence of re-adsorption of the released Hg during the course of cinnabar dissolution. However, there is a lack of feasible techniques that can quantitatively assess the amount of Hg re-adsorbed on cinnabar when investigating cinnabar dissolution. In this study, a new method, based on isotope tracing and dilution techniques, was developed to study the role of Hg re-adsorption in cinnabar dissolution. The developed method includes two key components: (1) accurate measurement of both released and spiked Hg in aqueous phase and (2) estimation of re-adsorbed Hg on cinnabar surface via the reduction in spiked (202)Hg(2+). By adopting the developed method, it was found that the released Hg for trials purged with oxygen could reach several hundred μgL(-1), while no significant cinnabar dissolution was detected under anaerobic condition. Cinnabar dissolution rate when considering Hg re-adsorption was approximately 2 times the value calculated solely with the Hg detected in the aqueous phase. These results suggest that ignoring the Hg re-adsorption process can significantly underestimate the importance of cinnabar dissolution, highlighting the necessity of applying the developed method in future cinnabar dissolution studies.

Keywords: Cinnabar dissolution; Hg re-adsorption on cinnabar surface; Isotope dilution; Isotope tracer technique; Redox condition.