Oxidation of atomic mercury by hydroxyl radicals and photoinduced decomposition of methylmercury species in the aqueous phase
Journal article, 2001

The rate constant for Hg0+.OH, kHg0+.OH=(2.4±0.3)×109 M−1 s−1, in the aqueous phase was determined using a relative rate technique with methyl mercury as reference compound. The .OH initiated mercury reaction proceeds via the molecular Hg(I) radical which is oxidised to Hg(II) by dissolved O2. The reaction can be of importance under certain atmospheric circumstances, such as when the aqueous phase capacity of forming OH radicals is significant and the gas phase concentration of ozone drops. The same end product, i.e. Hg(II) was observed from the photodegradation of methylmercury hydroxide. In this case, molecular Hg(I) radicals are again likely to be formed after photodegradation of the Hg–C bond with subsequent oxidation. A lifetime of 230 h of methylmercury at outdoor conditions was estimated due to this reaction. The action of .OH on methylmercury species also involves breaking of organometallic bonds and formation of Hg(II). Speciation of these reaction products from methylmercury is important for the estimation of biogeochemical cycling of mercury.

Biogeochemical cycling



Redox reactions


Katarina Gårdfeldt

University of Gothenburg

J. Sommar

University of Gothenburg

Dan Strömberg

University of Gothenburg

Xinbin Feng

University of Gothenburg

Atmospheric Environment

1352-2310 (ISSN) 1873-2844 (eISSN)

Vol. 35 17 3039-3047

Subject Categories

Physical Chemistry

Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences

Environmental Sciences

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