Navigation Links
New low-cost, nondestructive technology cuts risk from mercury hot spots

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

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:
Related Image:
New low-cost, nondestructive technology cuts risk from mercury hot spots
(Date:6/2/2016)... YORK , June 2, 2016   The Weather ... is announcing Watson Ads, an industry-first capability in which consumers ... by being able to ask questions via voice or text ... Marketers have long sought ... the consumer, that can be personal, relevant and valuable; and ...
(Date:5/16/2016)... , May 16, 2016   EyeLock LLC , ... announced the opening of an IoT Center of Excellence ... and expand the development of embedded iris biometric applications. ... level of convenience and security with unmatched biometric accuracy, ... identity aside from DNA. EyeLock,s platform uses video technology ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... Sweden , April 28, 2016 First ... M (139.9), up 966% compared with the first quarter of 2015 ... profit totaled SEK 589.1 M (loss: 18.8) and the operating margin ... 7.12 (loss: 0.32) Cash flow from operations was SEK ... The 2016 revenue guidance is unchanged, SEK 7,000-8,500 M. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 Epic ... sensitively detects cancers susceptible to PARP inhibitors by ... tumor cells (CTCs). The new test has already ... therapeutics in multiple cancer types. Over ... DNA damage response pathways, including PARP, ATM, ATR, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... WA (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... announces the release of its second eBook, “Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment and Retention ... recruitment and retention in this eBook by providing practical tips, tools, and strategies ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has announced ... biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" ... commercialization of a portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors ... such as WDR5 represent an exciting class of ... precision medicine for cancer patients. Substantial advances have ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Lawrence, MA (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 ... ... the Peel Plate® YM (Yeast and Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research ... test platform of microbial tests introduced last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President ...
Breaking Biology Technology: