Comparison of active measurements, lichen biomonitoring, and passive sampling for atmospheric mercury monitoring

Gačnik J., Živković I., Kotnik J., Božič D., Tassone A., Naccarato A., Pirrone N., Sprovieri F., Steffen A. & Horvat M.
Environmental Science and Pollution Research
31: 35800–35810
The number of atmospheric mercury (Hg) monitoring stations is growing globally. However, there are still many regions and locations where Hg monitoring is limited or non-existent. Expansion of the atmospheric Hg monitoring network could be facilitated by the use of cost-effective monitoring methods. As such, biomonitoring and passive monitoring offer a unique alternative to well-established monitoring by active measurements, since they do not require a power supply and require minimal workload to operate. The use of biomonitoring (lichens and mosses) and passive air samplers (PASs) (various designs with synthetic materials) has been reported in the literature, and comparisons with active measurement methods have also been made. However, these studies compared either biomonitoring or PASs (not both) to only one type of active measurement. In our work, we used transplanted (7 sampling sites) and in situ lichens (8 sampling sites) for biomonitoring, two PASs from different producers (3 sampling sites), and two different active measurement types (continuous and discontinuous active measurements, 1 and 8 sampling sites, respectively) to evaluate their effectiveness as monitoring methods. In the 9-month sampling campaign, 3 sampling locations with different characteristics (unpolluted, vicinity of a cement plant, and vicinity of a former Hg mine) were used. The results obtained with lichens and PASs clearly distinguished between sampling locations with different Hg concentrations; using both PASs and lichens together increased the confidence of our observations. The present work shows that biomonitoring and passive sampling can be effectively used to identify areas with elevated atmospheric Hg concentrations. The same can be said for discontinuous active measurements; however, the discrepancy between atmospheric Hg concentrations derived from PASs and discontinuous active measurements should be further investigated in the future. Keywords: Atmospheric mercury monitoring · Lichen biomonitoring · Passive sampling · Active measurement · Method comparison.
Monday, 24 June 2024 11:02