Navigation Links
New low-cost, nondestructive technology cuts risk from mercury hot spots
Date:10/25/2013

Hot spots of mercury pollution in aquatic sediments and soils can contaminate local food webs and threaten ecosystems, but cleaning them up can be expensive and destructive. Researchers from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and University of Maryland, Baltimore County have found a new low-cost, nonhazardous way to reduce the risk of exposure: using charcoal to trap it in the soil.

Mercury-contaminated "Superfund sites" contain some of the highest levels of mercury pollution in the U.S., a legacy of the many industrial uses of liquid mercury. But despite the threat, there are few available technologies to decrease the risk, short of digging up the sediments and burying them in landfillsan expensive process that can cause significant ecological damage.

In a new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, Cynthia Gilmour (SERC), Upal Ghosh (UMBC) and their colleagues show that adding activated carbon, a form of charcoal processed to increase its ability to bind chemicals, can significantly reduce mercury exposure in these highly contaminated sites. With funding and support from several industry and federal partners, the team tested the technology in the laboratory with mercury-contaminated sediments from four locations: a river, a freshwater lake and two brackish creeks. To reduce the harm from mercury, the sorbents also had to decrease the amount of methylmercury taken up by worms.

"Methylmercury is more toxic and more easily passed up food webs than inorganic mercury," said Gilmour, the lead author on the study. "Unfortunately, methylmercury is produced from mercury contamination by natural bacteria. To make contaminated sites safe again, we need to reduce the amount of methylmercury that gets into animals."

Added at only 5 percent of the mass of surface sediments, activated carbon reduced methylmercury uptake by sediment-dwelling worms by up to 90 percent. "This technology provides a new approach for remediation of mercury-contaminated soilsone that minimizes damage to contaminated ecosystems, and may significantly reduce costs relative to digging or dredging," said Ghosh, co-author on the study. Activated carbon can be spread on the surface of a contaminated sediment or soil, without physical disturbance, and left in place to mix into the sediment surface. Called "in-situ remediation," the use of sorbents like activated carbon has been proven to reduce the uptake of several other toxic pollutants. However, this is the first time activated carbon had been tested for mercury-contaminated soils.

The research group is now testing its effectiveness in the field at several Superfund sites across the country. If successful in the field, this approach of treating soil with activated carbon may be able to reduce the risk of mercury exposure in polluted sites and subsequent contamination of food webs.


'/>"/>

Contact: Kristen Minogue
minoguek@si.edu
443-482-2325
Smithsonian
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Bio-Rads Droplet Digital PCR technology highlighted at ASHG Annual Meeting
2. Laser technology sorting method can improve Capsicum pepper seed quality
3. NTU scientists make breakthrough solar technology
4. Beaumont named to 2013 InformationWeek 500 list of top technology innovators
5. Cytos Biotechnology Presents Additional Results From Phase 2a Study of CYT003 for the Treatment of Allergic Asthma
6. New NIH awards focus on nanopore technology for DNA sequencing
7. Biometrics & Technology Sector Leaders Briefing: NXT-ID, Intel, Sony, Facebook, Dell
8. Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine publishes special issue on assistive technology
9. Techne Corporation Appoints Dr. J. Fernando Bazan As Chief Technology Officer
10. Neurotechnology Announces NCheck Bio Attendance 2.0 Biometric Time and Attendance Software
11. Iris Biometrics Leader, EyeLock, Redefines Identity Authentication, Announces Availability of Software Development Kit to Accelerate Deployment of Technology
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
New low-cost, nondestructive technology cuts risk from mercury hot spots
(Date:2/10/2016)... PUNE, India , February 10, 2016 ... --> According to 2016 iris ... fingerprint identification iris recognition is more widely ... are available with both fingerprint and iris ... allows the user to avoid purchasing two ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... , Feb. 4, 2016 The field ... one of the most popular hubs of the ... and other huge studies of human microbiota, have ... few years, the microbiome space has literally exploded ... research. This report focuses on biomedical aspects ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... 2016  BioMEMS devices deployed in hospitals ... medical screening and diagnostic applications, such as ... that facilitate and assure continuous monitoring without ... being bolstered through new opportunities offered by ... coupled with wireless connectivity and low power ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... , February 11, 2016 ... Corporation ("PositiveID" or "Company") (OTCQB: PSID), a life ... today that its Thermomedics subsidiary, which markets the ... its growth plan in January 2016, including entering ... increasing sequential monthly sales growth, and establishing several ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... - BioAmber Inc. (NYSE: BIOA ), a leader ... & Co. Ltd., its partner in the ... an additional CDN$25 million in the joint venture for ... to 40%.  Mitsui will also play a stronger role ... Sarnia , providing dedicated resources alongside BioAmber,s ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... York, New York (PRWEB) , ... ... ... Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) today announced that it has joined the Human ... and immunotherapies for infectious diseases and cancer. , The Human Vaccines ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... HOLLOWAY ... of Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) Rocky Mountain Chapter 21st Annual Vendor Exhibition on Thursday, ... more than 100 tables for its annual event, which will run from 3:00 ...
Breaking Biology Technology: