Mercury and Methyl Mercury in Sediments of Northern Lakes-Egypt


Fifty-four sediment samples of the five Northern Egyptian lakes, (Mariout, Edku, El-Burullus, El-Manzallah, and El-Bardaweel) were analyzed to investigate the pollution status of mercury (Hg). The total mercury (T-Hg) content in sediment samples ranged from 15.33 to 171.29 ng·g–1 dry wt).The results showed that T-Hg were lower than the back ground values reported and also lower than the ranges of uncontaminated sediments. Moreover, the T-Hg concentrations in all sediments were under the upper chemical Exceedance level (1 μg·g–1). The concentrations of Methyl mercury (MeHg) in surface sediments of the Northern lakes ranged from 0.002 - 0.023 ng·g–1 dry wt. The contribution of MeHg was less than 0.1% of total mercury concentration with index values from 0.08 - 1.37 ng·g–1; dry wt). MeHg showed insignificant correlation with T-Hg. This suggested that MeHg contents were not controlled by the T-Hg in sediments. The T-Hg and MeHg concentrations were insignificantly correlated with TOC content which indicates that the concentration of T-Hg and MeHg in sediments of Northern lakes were not influence by TOC. The average T-Hg concentration was found in the following order; Mariout > El-Manzallah > El-Burullus > Edku > El-Bardaweel. While the MeHg was found in the order; El-Bardaweel > El-Burullus ≥ El-Manzallah > Mariout > Edku.

Share and Cite:

Shreadah, M. , Ghani, S. , Taha, A. , Ahmed, M. and Hawash, H. (2012) Mercury and Methyl Mercury in Sediments of Northern Lakes-Egypt. Journal of Environmental Protection, 3, 254-261. doi: 10.4236/jep.2012.33032.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] J.-B. Shi, C. M. Carman, C. W. Y. Tang, G. Zhang, S. S. Rudolf and X. Dong, “Spatial and Temporal Variations of Mercury in Sediments from Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong,” Marine Pollution Bulletin, Vol. 54, 2007, pp. 464-488.
[2] Y. Cai, J. Raffe and R. Jones, “Ethylmercury in the Soils and Sediments of the Florida Everglades,” Environmental Science and Technology, Vol. 31, No. 1, 1997, pp. 302- 305. doi:10.1021/es960587a
[3] J. S. Thayer, “Organometallic Compounds and Living Organisms,” Academic Press, Orlando, 1984.
[4] IAEA, “Standard Operating Procedure for Determination of Trace Metals,” A Training Course on the Analysis of Trace Metals in Biological and Sediment Samples for MEDPol, 1997, p. 46.
[5] A. M. Caricchia, G. Minervini, P. Soldati, S. Chiavarini, C. Ubaldi and R. Morabito, “GC-ECD Determination of Methylmercury in Sediment Samples Using a SPB-608 Capillary Column after Alkaline Digestion,” Microchemical Journal, Vol. 55, No. 1, 1997, pp. 44-55. doi:10.1006/mchj.1996.1357
[6] E. Gaudette, R. Flight, L. Toner and W. Folger, “An Inexpensive Titration Method for the Determination of Organic Carbon in Recent Sediments,” Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, Vol. 44, 1974, pp. 249-253.
[7] J. L. Guentzel, R. T. Powell, W. M. Landing and R. P. Mason, “Mercury, Association with Colloidal Material in Estuarine and Open-Ocean Environment,” Marine Chemistry, Vol. 55, No. 1-2, 1996, pp. 177-188. doi:10.1016/S0304-4203(96)00055-2
[8] C. Gagnon, é. Pelletier, A. Mucci and W. F. Fitzgerald, “Diagenetic Behavior of Methylmercury in Organic-Rich Coastal Sediments,” Limnologyical Oceanography, Vol. 41, No. 3, 1996, pp. 428-434. doi:10.4319/lo.1996.41.3.0428
[9] Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency/National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries (EEAA/NIOF), “Annual Report on Data Information and Monitoring Programme for the Northern Lakes during 2010,” 2010.
[10] P. J. Craig and P. A. Moreton, “Total Mercury, Methylmercury and Sulphide Levels in British Estuarine Sediments-III,” Water Researches, Vol. 20, No. 9, 1986, pp 1111-1118. doi:10.1016/0043-1354(86)90057-6
[11] M. Fujii, “Mercury Distribution in Lithosphere and Atmosphere,” In: S. Kitamura, M. Kondo, Y. Takizawa, M. Fujii and M. Fujiki, Eds., Kodansha Scientific, Mercury, Tokyo, 1976.
[12] HK ETWB, “Management of Dredged/Excavated Sediment,” Appendix A of ETWB (W) No. 34, Environment, Transport and Works Bureau, Hong Kong, 2002, p. A1.
[13] C. C. Gilmour and N. S. Bloom, “A Case Study of Mercury and Methylmercury Dynamics in a Hg-Contaminated Municipal Waste-Water Treatment Plant,” Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, Vol. 80, No. 1-4, 1995, pp. 799-803. doi:10.1007/BF01189731
[14] S. M. Ullrich, T. W. Tanton and S. A. Abdrashitova, “Mercury in the Aquatic Environment, a Review of Factors Affecting Methylation, Critical Reviews,” Environmental Science and Technology, Vol. 31, No. 3, 2001, pp. 241-293. doi:10.1080/20016491089226
[15] T. Hamasaki, H. Nagase, Y. Yoshioka and T. Sato, “Formation, Distribution, and Ecotoxicology of Methy Lmetals of Tin, Mercury, and Arsenic in the Environment,” Critical Review in Environmental Science and Technology, Vol. 25, No. 1, 1995, pp. 45-91.
[16] K. Kannan and J. Falandysz, “Speciation and Concentrations of Mercury in Certain Coastal Marine Sediment,” Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, Vol. 103, No. 1-4, 1998, pp. 129-136. doi:10.1023/A:1004967112178
[17] I. Andersson, H. Parkman and A. Jernelov, “The Role of Sediments as Sink or Source for Environmental Contamination, a Case Study of Mercury and Chlorinated Organic Compounds,” Limnologica, Vol. 20, 1990, pp. 347-359.
[18] O. Sehee, K. Moon-Kyung, Y. Seung-Muk and Z. Kyung-Duk, “Distributions of Total Mercury and Methylmercury in Surface Sediments and Fishes in Lake Shihwa, Korea,” Science of the Total Environment, Vol. 408, No. 5, 2010, pp. 1059-1068. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.11.007
[19] B. Ouddane, N. Mikac, A. B. Cundy, L. Quillet and J. C. Fischer, “A Comparative Study of Mercury Distribution and Methylation in Mudflats from Two Macrotidal Estuaries: The Seine (France) and the Medway (United Kingdom,” Applied Geochemistry, Vol. 23, No. 4, 2008, pp. 618-631. doi:10.1016/j.apgeochem.2007.11.001
[20] J. B. Shi, L. N Liang, G. B. Jiang and X. L. Jin, “The Speciation and Bioavailability of Mercury in Sediments of Haihe River,” China Environment International, Vol. 31, No. 3, 2005, pp. 357-365.
[21] J. B. Shi, L. N. Liang, C. G. Yuan, B. He and G. B. Jiang, “Methylmercury and Total Mercury in Sediment Collected from the East China Sea,” Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, Vol. 74, No. 5, 2005, pp. 980-987. doi:10.1007/s00128-005-0676-1

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.