Mercury Biogeochemistry

Group members in BOLD

Emissions and Atmospheric Chemistry

V. Shah, D.J. Jacob, C.P. Thackray, X. Wang, E.M. Sunderland, T. Dibble, A. Saiz-Lopez, I. Cernusak, V. Kello, P. Castro, R. Wu, W. Rongrong, C. Wang. 2021. Improved mechanistic model of the atmospheric redox chemistry of mercury. Environmental Science & Technology. [pdf]

D.H. Fourie, I.M. Hedgecock, F. DeSimone, E.M. Sunderland, N. Pirrone. 2019. Are mercury emissions from satellite electric propulsion systems an environmental concern? Environmental Research Letters. 14(12): 124021. [pdf]

Y. Zhang, D.J. Jacob, H.M. Horowitz, L. Chen, H.M. Amos, D.P. Krabbenhoft, F. Slemr, M.S. Landis, V. St. Louis, E.M. Sunderland. 2016. Observed decrease in atmospheric mercury explained by global decline in anthropogenic emissions. PNAS. 113(3), 526-531. [link to 1990-2010 global emissions data .zip file]. [full text]

  • News story on our paper showing a large decline in atmospheric mercury concentrations between the 1990s and 2010 due to controls on coal-fired utilities and the phase out of mercury in commercial products in North America and Europe.

D.G. Streets, H.M. Horowitz, Z. Lu, L. Levin, C.P. Thackray, E.M. Sunderland. 2019. Five hundred years of anthropogenic mercury: Spatial and temporal release profiles. Environmental Research Letters. 14: 084004. [pdf]

D.G. Streets, H.M. Horowitz, Z. Lu, L. Levin, C.P. Thackray, E.M. Sunderland. 2019. Global and regional trends in mercury emissions and concentrations, 2010-2015. Atmospheric Environment. 201: 417-427. [pdf]

A. Saiz-Lopez, S.P. Sitkiewicz, D. Roca-Sanjuán, J.M. Oliva-Enrich, J.Z Dávalos, R. Notario, M. Jiskra, Y. Xu, F. Wang, C.P. Thackray, E.M. Sunderland, D.J. Jacob, O. Travnikov, C.A. Cuevas, A.U. Acuña, D. Rivero, J. Plane, D.E. Kinnison, J.E. Sonke. 2018. Photoreduction of gaseous oxidized mercury changes global atmospheric mercury speciation, transport and deposition. Nature Communications. 9, 4796. [full text]

D.G. Streets, Z. Lu, L. Levin, A.F.H. ter Schure, E.M. Sunderland. 2018. Historical releases of mercury to air, land and water from coal combustion. Science of the Total Environment. 615: 131-140. [full text]

D.G. Streets, H.M. Horowitz, D.J. Jacob, Z. Lu, L. Levin, A. Ter Schure, E.M. Sunderland. 2017. Total mercury released to the environment by human activities. Environmental Science and Technology. 51: 5969-5977 [full text].

H.M. Horowitz, D.J. Jacob, Y. Zhang, T.S. Dibble, F. Slemr, H.M. Amos, J.A. Schmidt, E.S. Corbitt, E.A. Marais, E.M. Sunderland. 2017. A new mechanism for atmospheric mercury redox chemistry: Implications for the global mercury budget. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.17, 6353-6371. [full text].

D. Kocman, S.J. Wilson, H.M. Amos, K.H. Telmer, F. Steenhuisen, E.M. Sunderland, R.P. Mason, P. Outridge, M. Horvat. 2017. Toward an assessment of the global inventory of present-day mercury releases to freshwater environments. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.14(2), 138; doi: 10.3390/ijerph14020138. [full text].


Terrestrial Biogeochemistry

C.I. Olson, B.M. Geyman, C.P. Thackray, D.P. Krabbenhoft, M.T. Tate, E.M. Sunderland, C.T. Driscoll. 2022. Mercury in soils of the conterminous United States: Patterns and pools. Environmental Research Letters. 17(7), 074030. [pdf]

S.Zolkos, A.V. Zhulidov, T.Y. Gurtovaya, V.V. Gordeev, S. Berdnikov, N. Pavlova, E.A. Kalka, Y.A. Kuklina, D.A. Zhulidov, L.S. Kosmenko, A.I. Shiklomanov, A. Suslova, B.M. Geyman, C.P. Thackray, E.M. Sunderland, S.E. Tank, J.W. McClelland, R.M. Spencer, D.P. Krabbenhoft, R. Robarts, R.M. Holmes. 2022. Multi-decadal declines in particulate mercury and sediment export from Russian rivers in the pan-Arctic basin. PNAS. 3(10), 344-350.

K. Schaefer, Y. Elshorbany, E. Jafarov, P.F. Schuster, R.G. Striegl, K.P. Wickland, E.M. Sunderland. 2020. Potential impacts of mercury released from thawing permafrost. Nature Communications. 11, 4650. [pdf]

W. Xue, H. Yan, S. Yun Kwon, S. Grasby, E.M. Sunderland, X. Pan, R. Sun, T. Zhou, R. Yin. 2019. Anthropogenic influences on mercury in Chinese soil and sediment revealed by relationships with total organic carbon. Environmental Pollution. 255(1):113186. [pdf]

V. St. Louis, J. Graydon, I. Lehnherr, H. Amos, E. Sunderland, K. St. Pierre, C. Emmerton, K. Sandilands, M. Tate, A. Steffen, E. Humphreys. 2019. Atmospheric concentrations and wet/dry loadings of mercury at the remote Experimental Lakes Area, northwestern Ontario, Canada. Environmental Science & Technology. 53, 8017-8026. [pdf]


Marine Biogeochemistry

Y. Zhang, S. Dutkiewicz, E.M. Sunderland. 2021. Impacts of climate change on methylmercury formation and bioaccumulation in the 21st century ocean. One Earth. 4(2): 279-288. [pdf]

Y. Zhang, A.L. Soerensen, A.T. Schartup, E.M. Sunderland. 2020. A global model for methylmercury formation and uptake at the base of marine food webs. Global Biogeochemical Cyles. 34(2), GB006348. [pdf]

  • Read EOS research spotlight article on our paper modeling methylmercury in the global oceans.

J.E. Sonke, R. Teisserenc, L-E. Heimbürger, M.V. Petrova,  N. Marusczak, T. Le Dantec, A.V. Chupakov, C. Li, C.P. Thackray, E.M. Sunderland, N. Tananaev, O.S. Pokrovsky. 2018. Eurasian river spring flood observations support net Arctic Ocean mercury export to the atmosphere and Atlantic Ocean. PNAS. 115(50): E11586-E11594 [full text]

A.L. Soerensen, D.J. Jacob, A.T. Schartup, J.A. Fisher, I Lehnherr, V.L. St. Louis, L.-E. Heimberger, J.E. Sonke, D.P. Krabbenhoft, E.M. Sunderland. 2016. A mass budget for mercury and methylmercury in the Arctic Ocean. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. [full text] [SI]


Bioaccumulation and Wildlife Exposures

L. Munoz-Abril, C.A. Valle, J.J. Alava, S.E. Janssen, E.M. Sunderland, F. Rubianes-Landazuri, S.D. Emslie. 2022. Elevated mercury concentrations and isotope signatures (N,C, Hg) in yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) from the Galapagos marine reserve and waters off Ecuador. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.  41(11): 2732-2744. [pdf]

A.T. Schartup, C.P. Thackray, A. Qureshi, C. Dassuncao, K. Gillespie, A. Hanke, E.M. Sunderland. 2019. Climate change and overfishing increase neurotoxicant in marine predators. Nature. 572 (7771): 648-650.

Climate change likely to increase human exposure to toxic methylmercury

  • Article on our paper studying the effects of seawater warming and overfishing on methylmercury in marine fish.


S. Cinnirella, D. Evelina Bruno, N. Pirrone, M. Horvat, I. Zivkovic, D. Evers, S. Johnson, and E. Sunderland. 2019. Mercury concentrations in biota in the Mediterranean Sea, a compilation of 40 years of surveys. Scientific Data. 6: 205. [pdf]

M. Perkins, O.P. Lane, D.C. Evers, A. Sauer, N.J. O’Driscoll, S.T. Edmunds, J.C. Haelin, J. Trimble, E.M. Sunderland. 2019. Historical patterns of mercury exposure for North American songbirds. Ecotoxicology. ht4: tps:// [pdf]

J.D. Ewald, J.L. Kirk, M. Li, E.M. Sunderland. 2019. Organ-specific differences is mercury speciation and accumulation of in juvenile and adult ringed

 seals (Phoca hispida). Science of the Total Environment. 650(2):2013-2020. [pdf]

A.T. Schartup, A. Qureshi, C. Dassuncao, C.P. Thackray, G. Harding, E.M. Sunderland. 2018. Methylmercury uptake and trophic transfer by marine plankton. Environmental Science and Technology. 52(2): 654-662. [full text]


Human Exposures & Risk

Updated Reference Dose for Methylmercury Urgently Needed

M.Q. Dai, B.M. Geyman, X.C. Hu, C.P. Thackray, E.M. Sunderland. Sociodemographic disparities in mercury exposures from United States coal-fired power plants. Environmental Science & Technology Letters. ASAP.


R.S.D. Calder, S. Bromage, E.M. Sunderland. 2019. Risk tradeoffs associated with traditional food advisories for Labrador Inuit. Environmental Research. 168: 496-506. [pdf]

E.M. Sunderland, M. Li, K. Bullard. 2018. Decadal changes in edible supply of seafood and methylmercury exposure in the United States. Environmental Health Perspectives. DOI:10.1289/EHP2644. [full text]

R.S.D. Calder, A.T. Schartup, M. Li, A.P. Valberg, P.H. Balcom, E.M. Sunderland. 2016. Future impacts of hydroelectric power expansion on methylmercury exposures of Canadian indigenous communities. Environmental Science and Technology. 50 (23): 13115–13122. [full text] [SI]

M. Li, K. von Stackelberg, C. Rheinberger, J.K. Hammitt, D.P. Krabbenhoft, Y. Runsheng, E.M. Sunderland. 2016. Insights from mercury stable isotopes into factors affecting the internal body burden of methylmercury in frequent fish consumers. Elementa. 4(1): 000103. [full text]


Hg Isotope Geochemistry

M. Li, A. Juang, J. Ewald, R. Yin, B. Mikkelsen, D.P. Krabbenhoft, P. Balcom, C. Dassuncao, E.M. Sunderland. 2020. Selenium and stable mercury isotopic analysis provide new insights into mercury toxicokinetics in pilot whales. Science of the Total Environment. 710: 136325. [pdf]

R. Sun, M. Jiskra, H.M. Amos, Y. Zhang, E.M. Sunderland, J.E. Sonke. 2019. Modelling the mercury stable isotope distribution of Earth surface reservoirs: Implications for global Hg cycling. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. 246:156-173. [pdf]

D.J. Madigan, M. Li, R. Yin, H. Baumann, O.E. Snodgrass, H. Dewar, D.P. Krabbenhoft, Z. Baumann, N.S. Fisher, P.H. Balcom, E.M. Sunderland. 2018. Mercury stable isotopes reveal influence of foraging depth on mercury concentrations and growth in Pacific bluefin tuna. Environmental Science and Technology. 52(11): 6256-6264. [full text]

M. Li, A.T. Schartup, A.P. Valberg, J. Ewald, D.P. Krabbenhoft, R. Yin, P. Balcom, E.M. Sunderland. 2016. Environmental origins of methylmercury accumulated in subarctic estuarine fish indicated by Hg stable isotopes. Environmental Science and Technology. 50(21): 11559-11568. [full text].

R. Sun, D.G. Streets, H.M. Horowitz, H.M. Amos, G. Liu, V. Perrot, J-P Toutain, H. Hintelmann, E.M. Sunderland, J.E. Sonke. 2016. Historical (1850-2010) mercury stable isotope emissions from anthropogenic sources to the atmosphere. Elementa. 4(1):000091. [full text]


Editorial & Reviews

X.C. Hu, E.M. Sunderland, P. Grandjean. 2020. Mercury. In: Environmental Toxicants – Human Exposures and Their Health Effects, Eds. M. Lippmann, G.D. Leikuaf, 4th Edition. Wiley. 1024 pp. ISBN: 978-1-119-43880-9.

C.P. Thackray, E.M. Sunderland. 2019. Seafood methylmercury in a changing ocean. In:Predicting Future Oceans: Sustainability of Ocean and Human Systems Amidst Global Environmental Change. Eds: A.M. Cisneros-Montemayor, W.L. Cheung, Y. Ota. Pp. 61- 68. Elsevier, Oxford, UK. ISBN: 978-0-12-817-945-1.

E.M. Sunderland, C.T. Driscoll, Jr., J.K. Hamitt, P. Grandjean, J.S. Evans, J.D. Blum, C.Y. Chen, D.C. Evers, D.A. Jaffe, R.P. Mason, S. Goho, W. Jacobs. 2016. Benefits of regulating hazardous air pollutants from coal and oil-fired utilities in the United States. Environmental Science & Technology. 50(5): 2117-2120. [full text]

D. Obrist, J. Kirk, L. Zhang, E. Sunderland, M. Jiskra, N.E. Selin. 2018. A review of global environmental mercury processes in response to human and natural perturbations: changes of emissions, climate and land use. Ambio. DOI: 10.1007/s13280-017-1004-9. [full text]

E.M. Sunderland, A.T. Schartup. 2016. Mercury methylation on ice. Nature Microbiology. DOI: 10.1038/NMICROBIOL.2016.165. [pdf]

C.Y. Chen, C.T. Dricoll, K.F. Lambert, R.P. Mason, E.M. Sunderland. 2016. Connecting mercury science to policy: from sources to seafood. Reviews on Environmental Health. 31(1): 17-20. [full text].


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