Sea-dumped ammunition as a possible source of mercury to the Baltic Sea sediments

Jacek Bełdowski , Marta Szubska , Grzegorz Siedlewicz , Ewa Korejwo , Miłosz Grabowski , Magdalena Bełdowska , Urszula Kwasigroch , Jacek Fabisiak , Edyta Łońska , Mateusz Szala , Janusz Pempkowiak


After World War II, as a move toward Germany demilitarization, up to 385,000 t of munitions were sunk in the Baltic Sea. Munition containing various harmful substances, including chemical warfare agents (CWA) and explosives, that can affect marine biota were dumped on the seafloor. Some of those objects contained mercury, either as elemental mercury or mercury compounds (e.g., mercury fulminate, a common explosive primer), and thus could act as a specific local source of mercury in the dumping areas. Unfortunately, there is a lack of information on how dumped munitions impact the mercury concentrations in the Baltic Sea sediments. This report aims to answer the question how much sedimentary mercury in the dumping areas originates from munitions and to determine to what extent the mercury present in those areas originates from mercury fulminate. Concentrations of total sedimentary mercury- HgTOT in samples collected from conventional (Kolberger Heide) and chemical (Bornholm Deep) munitions dumping sites are characterized by high variability. However, an increase in HgTOT concentrations was observed with a decreasing distance to particular munition objects at both study sites. Moreover, mercury speciation in sediments from Kolberger Heide proves that the mercury there can be traced back directly to mercury fulminate. Results of our study confirm that munitions dumpsites are a local point sources of mercury. Due to the ecosystem constrains, varying transport modes and pathways, and both unknown and varying decomposition rates, these sea-bed mercury concentrations are hard to evaluate quantitatively. Therefore we recommend that further detailed studies should be conducted to assess sedimentary mercury provenience in munitions dumpsites more accurately.
Author Jacek Bełdowski
Jacek Bełdowski,,
, Marta Szubska
Marta Szubska,,
, Grzegorz Siedlewicz
Grzegorz Siedlewicz,,
, Ewa Korejwo (FOG)
Ewa Korejwo,,
- Faculty of Oceanography and Geography
, Miłosz Grabowski
Miłosz Grabowski,,
, Magdalena Bełdowska (FOG / IO / DMChEP)
Magdalena Bełdowska,,
- Division of Marine Chemistry and Environmental Protection
, Urszula Kwasigroch (FOG / IO / DMChEP)
Urszula Kwasigroch,,
- Division of Marine Chemistry and Environmental Protection
, Jacek Fabisiak
Jacek Fabisiak,,
, Edyta Łońska
Edyta Łońska,,
, Mateusz Szala
Mateusz Szala,,
et al.`
Journal seriesScience of the Total Environment, ISSN 0048-9697, e-ISSN 1879-1026, (N/A 200 pkt)
Issue year2019
Publication size in sheets0.5
Keywords in Englishmercury speciation, dumped munitions, UXO, mercury fulminate, methylmercury
ASJC Classification2304 Environmental Chemistry; 2305 Environmental Engineering; 2310 Pollution; 2311 Waste Management and Disposal
Languageen angielski
Score (nominal)200
Score sourcejournalList
ScoreMinisterial score = 200.0, 05-05-2020, ArticleFromJournal
Publication indicators WoS Citations = 0; Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2016 = 1.849; WoS Impact Factor: 2018 = 5.589 (2) - 2018=5.727 (5)
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