Conventional and novel techniques for the determination of Hg uptake by lettuce in amended agricultural peri-urban soils

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Peri-urban agriculture provides environmental benefits to the nearby urban areas. However, domestic and industrial infrastructures can be sources of pollution that can affect agricultural production. In this work, the diffusive gradient in thin film (DGT) technique was used to assess the bioavailability of mercury (Hg) in organic-amended agricultural soils, and uptake by lettuce. Two different amendments were studied individually in three different sets using a wood-based biochar at two rates (3% and 6%, w/w), and compost at one rate (30% w/w). The effect of the amendments on Hg bioavailability, mobility and uptake was investigated by means of both DGT analyses and accumulation of Hg by lettuce. DGT manufactured in-house devices with polyacrylamide gel using both open and restricted diffusive layers (ODL and RDL, respectively) were used to determine organic and inorganic Hg labile species in soils, respectively. The Hg concentration in lettuce leaves and roots were analyzed and compared with DGT measurements to predict the uptake of Hg from the different organic-amended soils and the non-amended soils. Results show that the application of biochar reduces the bioavailability of Hg in soil and, in consequence, the Hg uptake by lettuce. Inorganic Hg species were predominant in all the different sets of the experiment (62–97%), although the addition of the different amendments reduced the free ionic species in soil ​
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