Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Plastics Containing ‘Smart Elements’ Can Reliably Detect Mercury In Drinking Water, Study Suggests

Date:
June 15, 2008
Source:
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Summary:
Researchers have developed plastics containing "smart elements" that can instantly detect the presence of mercury at or below the drinking water standard set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, even when other metals are present in the solution.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed plastics containing “smart elements” that can instantly detect the presence of mercury at or below the drinking water standard set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, even when other metals are present in the solution.

“Mercury poisoning remains a significant threat to human health, and global mercury emissions continue to rise from incineration of solid waste and the combustion of fossil fuels,” says Gregory Tew, a professor of polymer science and engineering. “We used smart polymers to create inexpensive, portable and easy-to-use sensors that are a big improvement over current industrial approaches that use sophisticated equipment not suitable for field measurements.”

According to Tew, mercury has a long lifetime in the atmosphere, which tends to spread the contamination across wide areas of land and water. To make the problem worse, bacteria can convert different forms of mercury into methyl mercury, adding this potent neurotoxin to the food chain.

Funding for the project was provided by the Army Research Office. Results were published April 28 in Chemistry – A European Journal.

The sensors were created by coating cotton filter paper with a polymer containing terpyridine, a molecule that is known for its ability to bind to metals. After placing strips of the coated paper in water, Tew noticed an immediate color change to pink at a mercury concentration of 2,000 parts per billion. The color change was observed after one half-hour at a concentration of 2 parts per billion, which is the current drinking water standard.

Introduction of a ten-fold excess of competing heavy metals that can be found in contaminated environments such as copper, zinc, nickel and lead did not impact the ability of mercury to induce the pink color.

According to Tew, the dipsticks also solve many of the problems associated with portable sensors that rely on color or fluorescence, since the dip-sticks work well in water and can detect mercury in the presence of other metals, which are common failings of other methods.

Tew holds a patent for the mercury sensors, and is currently working with the UMass Amherst Office of Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property to bring this product to market.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Massachusetts Amherst. "Plastics Containing ‘Smart Elements’ Can Reliably Detect Mercury In Drinking Water, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080613164921.htm>.
University of Massachusetts Amherst. (2008, June 15). Plastics Containing ‘Smart Elements’ Can Reliably Detect Mercury In Drinking Water, Study Suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080613164921.htm
University of Massachusetts Amherst. "Plastics Containing ‘Smart Elements’ Can Reliably Detect Mercury In Drinking Water, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080613164921.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins