Mercury

formula: Hg; CAS Registry Number: 7439-97-6

Naturally occurring highly toxic transition metal, which is liquid at standard conditions for temperature and pressure

In the environment it is present as metallic mercury (i.e. as vapour or liquid) and as inorganic and organic compounds. The different Hg-species differ considerably in their environmental behaviour, bioavailability, metabolism and toxicity.

Mercury is used in electric- and electronic industries, in measurement technology and pyrotechnics as well as in chemical- and pharmaceutical industries, medicine and dentistry. Until the mid 1980s it was permitted for biocidal seed treatment in German agriculture.

It may enter the environment through anthropogenic activities and natural processes like weathering, volcanic action, evaporation from soils and waters and forest fires. Soils are the biggest reservoir of mercury.

Environmentally relevant characteristics of mercury and its compounds include:

Guidelines for Chemical Analysis: Determination of Mercury in Environmental Samples by Direct Solid Analysis

Specimen

Common spruce A major primary producer in semi-natural and anthropogenic affected ecosystems.
Pine A major primary producer in semi-natural and anthropogenic affected ecosystems.
Lombardy poplar A deciduous tree typical of ecosystems close to dense conurbations and an indicator for the characterisation of the immission situation during the vegetation period.
Beech As the most dominant deciduous tree species in Central Europe, it plays a significant role in most nearly natural and also anthropogenically influenced forest ecosystems up to an altitude of 1100 m.
Roe deer, one-year-old The roe deer is the most common of the larger herbivores (first order-consumer) to be found in the wild in Europe.
Earthworm (Aporrectodea longa) As an organism living at ground level, it is a major driver of the decomposition of organic material (e.g. plant litter).
Earthworm (Lumbricus terrestris) As an organism living at ground level, it is a major driver of the decomposition of organic material (e.g. plant litter).
Zebra mussel Common mussel species as invasive animal in rivers and lakes with high information level for water pollution
Bream Bioindicator in rivers and lakes
Common bladder wrack Common brown alga of the coastal areas of the North and Baltic Sea
Blue mussel One of the most important edible mussel species common in the North and Baltic Sea
Eelpout As the only viviparous fish in German nearshore waters, it is a bioindicator in nearshore coastal marine ecosystems.
Herring gull Inshore, the herring gull mainly feeds from the sea: upon fish, mussels, and crabs.
Soil Soil is livelihood and biosphere for humans, animals, plants and soil organisms. All the substances brought in are transported, transformed and/or accumulated in the soil.
Suspended particulate matter Fine insoluble mineral or organic particles in the water phase
Students Student groups with an even number of female and male students at the age of 20 to 29.

Sampling area

BR/NP Berchtesgaden The only high mountains national park in Germany and an area of the Limestone Alps with international relevance
Saarländischer Verdichtungsraum Important, old-industrialised conurbation in Germany.
Bornhöveder Seengebiet Main water divide between the North- and Baltic Sea
Rhein Longest river in Germany
NP Bayerischer Wald Germany's first national park
NP Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft National Park in the largest brackish water (Bodden) habitat of the world.
BR/NP Wattenmeere National park in the world largest connected sand and mud flats.
Elbe Fourth largest river basin in Central Europe
Dübener Heide Region in the chemical triangle of Central Germany
NP Harz Germany's largest forest national park
Solling Second highest and largest low mountain range in Northern Germany
BR Pfälzerwald Germany's largest connected forest area in a range of low mountains
Oberbayerisches Tertiärhügelland The Upper Bavarian Tertiary Uplands are a part of the Southern German Molasse Basin
Donau Second largest river in Europe
Sampling sites (humans) 4 university cities as sampling areas.

Sampling period

1985 - 2014