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.

Related Articles


“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 March 5, 2015 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 March 5, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Did the Simpsons Figure out the Higgs Boson Particle Years Before Scientists

Did the Simpsons Figure out the Higgs Boson Particle Years Before Scientists

Buzz60 (Mar. 4, 2015) During a 1998 Simpsons episode, Homer Simpson scribbled a seemingly gibberish equation on a chalkboard. Turns out that equation is a shake off from predicting the actual nano mass of the God Particle. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Wearables Now the Must-Haveables

Wearables Now the Must-Haveables

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 3, 2015) Telecom company executives are meeting in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress, the largest annual trade show for the wireless industry. As Ivor Bennett reports from the show wearable technology is one of the big themes. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Forensic Holodeck Creates 3D Crime Scenes

Forensic Holodeck Creates 3D Crime Scenes

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 3, 2015) A holodeck is no longer the preserve of TV sci-fi classic Star Trek, thanks to researchers from the Institute of Forensic Medicine Zurich, who have created what they say is the first system in the world to visualise the 3D data of forensic scans. Jim Drury saw it in operation. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Plane Passes New Test Ahead of World Tour

Solar Plane Passes New Test Ahead of World Tour

AFP (Mar. 2, 2015) A solar-powered plane made a third successful test flight in the United Arab Emirates on Monday ahead of a planned round-the-world tour to promote alternative energy. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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