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ADELAIDE, South Australia -- A brand new, dirt cheap,
non-toxic polymer that literally sucks mercury out of water
and soil is set to become a game changer in the battle
against one of the world's most reviled pollutants.
The dark red material, developed by Flinders University's
Dr Justin Chalker, is made from the industrial waste products
sulphur and limonene and turns bright yellow when it absorbs
"Mercury contamination plagues many areas of the world,
affecting both food and water supplies and creating a serious
need for an efficient and cost effective method to trap this
mercury," says Dr Chalker.
"Until now, there has been no such method, but the new
sulphur-limonene polysulfide addresses this urgent need.
"More than 70 million tonnes of sulphur is produced each
year by the petroleum industry, so there are literally
mountains of it lying, unused, around the globe, while
more than 70 thousand tons of limonene is produced each
year by the citrus industry
(limonene is found mainly in orange peels).
Mercury pollution occurs as a consequence of a number
of industrial activities, including mining and the burning of
fossil fuels, and mercury levels in the ocean have tripled
since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Mercury
contaminates fish and seafood, entering the human food
chain where it has been linked to health problems, and
lower IQ in children. Mercury also compromises the
reproductive health of birds and fish.
A polysulfide material was synthesized by the direct
reaction of sulfur and D-limonene, by-products of the
petroleum and citrus industries, respectively. The resulting
material was processed into functional coatings or molded
into solid devices for the removal of palladium and mercury
salts from water and soil. The binding of mercury(II) to the
sulfur-limonene polysulfide resulted in a color change.
These properties motivate application in next-generation
environmental remediation and mercury sensing.
originally posted by: beansidhe
a reply to: radarloveguy
That is good news, thanks for posting it. What happens when the mercury binds to the limonsene though? Can it be disposed of safely? Or is just the 'loose' mercury that makes it a problem?
So many questions.
How mercury gets into fish
Mercury levels in the northern Pacific Ocean have risen about 30 percent over the past 20 years and are expected to rise by 50 percent more by 2050 as industrial mercury emissions increase, according to a 2009 study led by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and Harvard University.
Mercury-containing plants and tiny animals are eaten by smaller fish that are then gobbled up by larger fish, whose tissue accumulates mercury. That’s why larger, longer-living predators such as sharks and swordfish tend to have more of the toxin than smaller fish such as sardines, sole, and trout.
In comments submitted to federal health officials earlier this year, a group of scientists and policy analysts pointed out that a 6-ounce serving of salmon contains about 4 micrograms of mercury vs. 60 micrograms for the same portion of canned albacore tuna—and 170 micrograms for swordfish.
When you eat seafood containing methyl mercury, more than 95 percent is absorbed, passing into your bloodstream. It can move throughout your body, where it can penetrate cells in any tissue or organ.