Date of Award


Document Type



Environmental Science

Thesis Advisor

Huiting Mao


Mercury is a global pollutant with serious harmful impacts on human and ecosystem health. It is emitted into the atmosphere from many sources such as fossil fuel combustion, incineration, and landfill. Some sources/processes are either poorly documented or unknown. Cremation processes are one of these that have not been studied and are currently unaccounted for in the United States Environmental Protection Agency's National Emissions Inventory. The objective of this study was to characterize the temporal variation of total gaseous mercury (TGM) concentrations and identify an unknown, seemingly highly localized source of gaseous mercury causing very high episodic concentrations. TGM measurements were conducted from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) campus in downtown Syracuse, New York during the time period of summer 2013 - fall 2015. A complete annual cycle was observed, with lowest concentrations (1.36 ng m-3 ) in · September, and highest (1.57 ng m-3 ) in January, with an annual average amplitude of 0.21 ng m-3 . Concentrations appeared to be decreasing continuously throughout the study period, with decreases of 0.12 ng m-3 and 0.18 ng m-3 for summer 2013-2014 and 2014- 2015, respectively; 0.14 ng m-3 and 0.05 ng m-3 for fall 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, respectively; and 0.08 ng m-3 for winter 20 14-2015 . Diurnal cycles were observed with daily maximums at 13:00-16:00 UTC (1.55 ng m-3 - 1.65 ng m-3 ) in winter-spring, 1:00 UTC (1.4 ng m-3 -1.7 ng m-3 ) and 12:00-16:00 UTC (1.3 ng m-3 -1.52 ng m-3 ) in summer-fall. The concentrations above the seasonal 99th percentile values under calm (< 2 m s-1 ) and southeasterly wind conditions were associated with probable Hg emissions from a nearby crematorium, located approximately 890 meters to the southeast of the monitoring station. The total emission of mercury from this source was estimated to be 0.51 lbs, 1.64 lbs, and 0.49 lbs for 2013, 2014, and 2015, respectively. These were compared to nearby sources documented in the EPA's National Emissions Inventory 2011, including the Syracuse Steam Station (0.3 lbs), Onondaga County Resource Recovery Facility (7.7 lbs) and Bristol-Myer Squibb Company (9.52E-02 lbs). Further study is warranted to determine the extent of mercury emissions from crematoriums across the United States.