It is a known fast that mercury represents a threat to food webs and ecosystems. However, getting rid of mercury can be very expensive. The good news is that the specialists may have found a low-cost way to decrease the risk of exposure which is based on charcoal.
What is it all about?
There are a lot of mercury hotspots in the U.S. due to the past use of liquid mercury. There are some technologies available, such as digging these sites up and burying in landfills. Still, this process is expensive and it comes with great risks of ecological damage.
The Latest Studies
According to the latest studies in the field, by adding activated carbon people can decrease the exposure of the contaminated sites. Activated carbon is a kind of charcoal which has been modified to increase its binding properties.
The study has been funded by federal and industry partners. As a part of the study the researchers tested the mercury contaminations in four different locations: freshwater, a river, and a couple of brackish creeks. In order to decrease the threat of mercury, the specialists had to decrease the amounts of methyl mercury taken up by the worms.
The Opinion of the Specialists
Methyl mercury is more dangerous than mercury. This is a result of mercury contamination that is broken down by bacteria. In order to reduce the contaminations, specialists have to limit the mercury exposure of animals. If activated carbon is added, the methyl mercury that reaches the bacteria is decreased by 90%.
This new technology makes it possible to reverse the effects of mercury contamination of the ecosystems and in the same time it saves the costs of digging. The activated carbon can be spread on the soil without disturbing the ecosystems and people just have to leave it there to be mixed in with the soil.
Such technologies can be used in case of different kinds of pollutants and they have been used with success in the past years. Nonetheless, this is the first time that activated carbon has been used to fight the effects of mercury. At the moment the researchers are running tests on several contaminated locations to see in what degree can this new technology help.
Still people shouldn’t think that it is alright to have mercury pollution. Let’s not forget that prevention is the best cure in situations of this kind.
photo credit: (http://www.sciencedaily.com)