Measuring Mercury in European streams

EuroRun_mercury is led by Dr. Andrea Garcia Bravo. She is happy to take any questions related to this project and about Mercury in freshwaters in general :)




Department of Ecology and Genetics, Limnology

Uppsala University

Norbyvägen 18D

SE-75236 Uppsala, Sweden


Although mercury (Hg) is a naturally occurring element, high amounts (more than 40%) can come from anthropogenic sources. Hg is toxic and can damage the central nervous system of severely exposed humans. The toxicity of Hg has raised international concerns. In aquatic systems, it has been shown that Hg can bio-accumulate in the food web and thus end up on the menu of humans when eating fish. The Minamata Convention on Mercury entered into force on 16th August 2017 and seeks to reduce Hg emissions and to protect human health and the environment from its adverse effects. Given this, the reduction of Hg emissions alone will not necessarily translate into decreases in Hg in aquatic systems. Building a model to predict Hg levels in aquatic systems is key to develop effective management strategies. EuroRun_mercury aims to find a driver of inorganic-Hg and methyl-Hg in European running waters.


Inorganic-Hg (Hg2+) and methyl-Hg (MeHg) were measured in filtered and unfiltered waters at the EuroRun stream sites by GC-ICP-MS and isotopic dilution approaches. In addition, concentrations and compositions of dissolved organic matter were characterized with optical methods.


The mean concentration of Hg2+ and MeHg in unfiltered waters was 0.58 ± 0.51 ng L-1 and 0.054 ± 0.044 ng L-1 (mean ± std, n = 25), respectively.

The results are now published:


Bravo et al. 2018 The interplay between total mercury, methylmercury and dissolved organic matter in fluvial systems: A latitudinal study across Europe. Water Research 144: 172-182.


Bravo et al. 2018 Cleaning and Sampling Protocol for Analysis of Mercury and Dissolved Organic Matter in Freshwater Systems. MethodsX (in press).