Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 42:685-692, 1985. Paper abstract bibtex
Mercury methylation was measured in surficial sediments taken from unacidified and experimentally acidified lakes in the Experimental Lakes Area, northwestern Ontario. A reduction in the pH of sediments lowered the rate of 203Hg methylation. Methylation was undetectable at pH <5.0. This decrease in mercury methylation was probably related to a shortage of available inorganic mercury when the pH of the sediment porewater was reduced. Below pH 6.0, inorganic mercury concentrations in porewater, measured with 203Hg, were reduced to less than 20% of that found at unaltered pH. A comparison of methylation and demethylation rates was made at various pH's. The rate of demethylation decreased to a lesser extent than methylation as the pH was lowered. This research indicates that enhanced mercury methylation in the sediment is not responsible for the observed increase in mercury levels in fish from acidified lakes.