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Seattle, WA, United States

Rothenberg S.E.,University of South Carolina | Windham-Myers L.,U.S. Geological Survey | Creswell J.E.,Brooks Rand Instruments
Environmental Research | Year: 2014

Rice cultivation practices from field preparation to post-harvest transform rice paddies into hot spots for microbial mercury methylation, converting less-toxic inorganic mercury to more-toxic methylmercury, which is likely translocated to rice grain. This review includes 51 studies reporting rice total mercury and/or methylmercury concentrations, based on rice (Orzya sativa) cultivated or purchased in 15 countries. Not surprisingly, both rice total mercury and methylmercury levels were significantly higher in polluted sites compared to non-polluted sites (Wilcoxon rank sum, p<0.001). However, rice percent methylmercury (of total mercury) did not differ statistically between polluted and non-polluted sites (Wilcoxon rank sum, p=0.35), suggesting comparable mercury methylation rates in paddy soil across these sites and/or similar accumulation of mercury species for these rice cultivars. Studies characterizing the effects of rice cultivation under more aerobic conditions were reviewed to determine the mitigation potential of this practice. Rice management practices utilizing alternating wetting and drying (instead of continuous flooding) caused soil methylmercury levels to spike, resulting in a strong methylmercury pulse after fields were dried and reflooded; however, it is uncertain whether this led to increased translocation of methylmercury from paddy soil to rice grain. Due to the potential health risks, it is advisable to investigate this issue further, and to develop separate water management strategies for mercury polluted and non-polluted sites, in order to minimize methylmercury exposure through rice ingestion. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.


Creswell J.E.,Brooks Rand Instruments | Carter A.,Brooks Rand Labs | Engel V.L.,Brooks Rand Instruments | Metz J.A.,Brooks Rand Instruments | Davies C.A.,Brooks Rand Instruments
Water, Air, and Soil Pollution | Year: 2015

We have conducted an interlaboratory comparison study for total mercury and methylmercury analysis in natural (unspiked) water samples annually for the past 4 years. The samples were primarily freshwater, with the exception of one coastal seawater sample in 2014. The study provided participants with an opportunity to assess the quality of their measurements and the intercomparability of their data with their peers. Data on analytical methods used were collected and used to determine whether any methods yield biased results and should be discontinued. The majority of participants received performance scores of 3 or higher, indicating satisfactory performance and results close to the consensus means. However, the coefficients of variation between labs were greater than 20 % in most cases, which may not be sufficiently precise for multilaboratory environmental research, where the processes being studied may vary by 20 % or less. Total mercury analysis methods that do not use gold amalgamation were shown to be underperforming relative to those that do. No significant correlation was observed between sample storage time or temperature and total mercury recovery. Methylmercury analysis methods that do not use distillation performed poorly relative to those that use distillation. © 2015 Springer International Publishing Switzerland.

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