M.S. Thesis: Assessment of Mercury Contamination in Surficial Sediments of Newark Bay

By Alexander F. Gregory

Advisor: Professor Nickolas J. Themelis

Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering
Fu Foundation School of Engineering & Applied Science
Columbia University

November 2001

This study of mercury contamination in Newark Bay sediments was initiated from a broader study of mercury sources and material balance in the New York-New Jersey Harbor, conducted for the New York Academy of Sciences’ Harbor Consortium by Themelis and Gregory (2001). The author of this report concluded that a more in-depth study should be conducted on a smaller area within the Harbor where mercury contamination has been historically significant. This conclusion was also based on results from a recent study by Gregory and Gorokovich (200 I), where geographic information systems (GIS) technology was used to visualize the high Hg concentrations in Newark Bay surficial sediments from 1988 to 2000. As a result, it was determined that this study should include a discussion of a) health risks associated with mercury exposure originating in aquatic environments, b) sediment and water quality characteristics that influence mercury methylation, c) source of Hg contamination to Newark Bay, and d) assessment of mercury contamination of Newark Bay sediments.

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