Navigation Links
Mercury contamination in water can be detected with a mobile phone
Date:2/6/2013

Chemists at the University of Burgos (Spain) have manufactured a sheet that changes colour in the presence of water contaminated with mercury. The results can be seen with the naked eye but when photographing the membrane with a mobile phone the concentration of this extremely toxic metal can be quantified.

Mercury contamination is a problem that is particularly affecting developing countries. It poses a risk to public health since it accumulates in the brain and the kidneys causing long term neurological illnesses. It is emitted from industrial and mining waste, especially small-scale gold mining.

A team at the University of Burgos have now developed a technique for detecting the presence of this dangerous metal in water "in a cheap, quick and in situ way," as explained to SINC by Jos Miguel Garca, one of the authors of the study. Details have been published in the 'Analytical Methods' journal.

The method consists of placing the fine sheet created by the researchers in the water for five minutes. If it turns red, this signals the presence of mercury. "Changes can be seen by the naked eye and anyone, even if they have no previous knowledge, can find out whether a water source is contaminated with mercury above determined limits," outlines the lecturer Garca.

In addition, if we take a photograph of the sheet with a digital camera, like those in mobile phones or tablet computers, we can find out the concentration of the metal. We only need image treatment software (the team used the open access GIMP programme) to see the colour coordinates. The result is then compared with reference values.

The membrane contains a florescent organic compound called rhodamine, which acts as a mercury sensor. "Rhodamine is insoluble in water," says the researcher. "But we chemically fix it to a hydrophilic polymer structure in such a way that when put into water it swells and the sensory molecules are forced to remain in the aqueous medium and interact with mercury."

The exact composition of the sheet can be adjusted to the desired parameters. More specifically, the researchers have calibrated the sheet so that it changes colour when limits established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the United States are exceeded: 2 ppb (parts per billion) of divalent mercury Hg(II), one of the most reactive, in water destined for human consumption.

Having also developed a method for other elements like iron or cyanide, the researchers believe that the water drunk in Spain "is of excellent quality due to highly efficient controls." Therefore, the technique could be used there for detecting mercury in certain spills and for studying its presence in fish.

A global problem

A recent study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) demonstrates that a large part of human exposure to this toxic metal is due to consumption of contaminated fish.

Named the Global Mercury Assessment 2013, the report analysed for the first time the mercury released into the rivers and lakes around the whole world. The small-scale extraction of gold and the combustion of coal for electricity generation seem to be behind the increase in the emissions of developing countries.

As for the sea, in the last century the mercury quantity has doubled in the first hundred meters from the surface of the planet's oceans. Concentrations in deep water have also increased by up to 25%.

To stop the global contamination of this metal, in January more than 140 countries came together in Geneva and approved the start-up of the Minamata Convention, a new international binding regulation bearing the name of the Japanese city where hundreds of people died in the 1950's due to mercury poisoning.


'/>"/>

Contact: Press Office
info@agenciasinc.es
34-914-251-820
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Mercury in dolphins: Study compares toxin levels in captive and wild sea mammals
2. NIST launches new website to educate industry about alternatives to mercury thermometers
3. Mercury rising: Greater L.A. to heat up an average 4 to 5 degrees by mid-century
4. Mercury mineral evolution
5. Measuring mercury levels: Nano-velcro detects water-borne toxic metals
6. Mercury in water, fish detected with nanotechnology
7. Mercury releases contaminate ocean fish: Dartmouth-led effort publishes major findings
8. GEOLOGY returns to Naica Cave, Mexico, and extends its reach to Mercury
9. Researchers develop rapid test strips for bacterial contamination in swimming water
10. New study confirms erroneous link between XMRV and prostate cancer-contamination was the cause
11. Ozone treated water v. lethal microbial material
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Mercury contamination in water can be detected with a mobile phone
(Date:3/3/2016)... -- FlexTech, a SEMI Strategic Association Partner, awarded five FLEXI ... Leadership in Education, and, in a category new this ... year of the FLEXI Awards and the winners join ... past years . Judging was done on a set ... by a panel of non-affiliated, independent, industry experts. ...
(Date:3/3/2016)... SOTO, Kansas , March 3, 2016 ... Oncimmune,s Early CDT®-Lung, a blood test to aid ... cancer Early CDT®-Lung test to its clients ... Early CDT®-Lung test to its clients which include ... a leader in early cancer detection, today announced a ...
(Date:3/2/2016)... , March 2, 2016 ... of the "Global Biometrics as a ... offering. --> http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/cmt3hk/global_biometrics ) ... "Global Biometrics as a Service Market 2016-2020" ... --> Research and Markets ( http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/cmt3hk/global_biometrics ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/3/2016)... ... May 03, 2016 , ... ... addition of Dr. Nancy Gillett to its Board of Directors. Dr. Gillett recently ... as Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer. A board-certified veterinary pathologist, ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... WOODLANDS, Texas , May 3, 2016  Dr. ... certified plastic surgeon in The Woodlands, Texas ... that destroys 24 percent of treated fat cells in ... and woman. Close to 90 percent of Americans report ... treatment options. Nonsurgical fat reduction procedures are a growing ...
(Date:5/2/2016)... ... May 02, 2016 , ... Meister Media Worldwide launches its ... and added functionality give the agricultural world a taste of Meister Media Worldwide’s ... agriculture – from precision farming via satellites and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... April 29, 2016 , ... Proove Biosciences, Inc ... announce the launch of the Proove Health Foundation . The Foundation is ... promote the use of personalized medicine for tackling the nation’s most-pressing healthcare epidemics. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: