Soil and plant samples, collected nearby an industrial site in the South of Italy, were investigated to monitor the presence and distribution of mercury (Hg). The Hg contamination in soils ranged from ca. 1.5 to 50 mg kg−1 and was limited to the first 0.5 m. In general, high spatial distribution heterogeneities were observed. The spontaneous flora analysed contained an average of 0.2 mg kg−1 of Hg, and the highest Hg concentration was found in the roots of Glicyrrhiza glabra (0.43 mg kg−1). Hg pollution can be possibly ascribed to a chlor-alkali plant operating in this area in the 1960s-1980s.
Keywords: mercury distribution, chlor-alkali plant, Italy, soil contamination, environmental pollution, plant pollution