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:11/19/2015)... MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. , Nov. 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... authentication market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes BIO-key with the ... Strategy Leadership. Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this ... comprehensive product line catering to the needs of the ... which the product line meets and expands on customer ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... 2015 Paris from 17 ... Paris from 17 th until 19 ... innovation leader, has invented the first combined scanner in the ... same scanning surface. Until now two different scanners were required: one ... capture both on the same surface. This innovation is ...
(Date:11/16/2015)... Nov 16, 2015  Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... solutions, today announced expansion of its TDDI product ... touch controller and display driver integration (TDDI) solutions ... These new TDDI products add to the previously-announced ... TD4302 (WQHD resolution), and TD4322 (FHD resolution) solutions. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/23/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Noblis, Inc., a leading provider of science, technology, and strategy ... Intelligence Agency (NGA), has joined the Noblis NSP team as President of the organization. ... community and the private sector,” said L. Roger Mason, Jr., Ph.D. , Senior ...
(Date:11/23/2015)... and PISCATAWAY, New Jersey , ... Crystallographic Data Centre (CCDC) announces the launch ... Database (CSD) and the CSD-System, now complemented by ... CSD-Discovery to support the discovery of new molecules, ... CSD-Enterprise, the complete set of the CCDC,s applications ...
(Date:11/23/2015)... -- CryoLife, Inc. (NYSE: CRY ), a leading medical device ... announced today that it will participate in the upcoming 27 ... 2, 2015 at The New York Palace Hotel in ... , President and Chief Executive Officer. --> ... --> A live webcast of the Company,s presentation is ...
(Date:11/23/2015)... , Nov. 23, 2015  Oxis Biotech, Inc. ... Inc. [OTC: OXIS] and [Euronext Paris: OXI.PA] announced ... Masonic Cancer Center received notification from the U.S. ... proceed with their planned combination Phase 1/Phase 2 ... rights to develop and commercialize OXS-1550, a novel ...
Breaking Biology Technology: