Student Research Projects

Effects of Salinity on Mercury Deposition

Student Tatyana Zvonareva, '16
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Biology
Course CHEM 270: Environmental Chemistry


Relatively little is known about the effects of sea spray on the mercury deposition to plant material near the ocean. The primary objective of this study is to determine whether there is a correlation between NaCl concentration and the mercury deposition on the surface of the leaves. We worked with the leaves of the Ilex aquifolium plant, where 6 branches (with approximately 7 leaves) were selected for coating with 0%, 5% and 10% salt solutions respectively. Three days after the coating, the leaves were collected and washed with deionized water. Washes were then analyzed for mercury and major anion content. Interestingly, an increase in the salt concentration from 0% to 5% salt resulted in an increased Hg deposition. However, no increase in Hg deposition was seen for the 10% salt solution relative to the 5% solution. This might indicate that there is only a limited amount of gaseous Hg available to deposit to the additional NaCl of the 10% solution.