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Polymer made from orange peel could clean mercury pollution

October 26, 2015

YouTube video TomoNews US

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA — A team of Australian researchers may have found a cheap, sustainable way to solve the global problem of mercury contamination.

According to The Conversation, the major sources of mercury in Australian waters come from industries involved in water supply and sewage, metal manufacturing, oil and gas extraction, and mining. Mercury pollution seeps into waterways and gets turned into methylmercury by organisms in the water.

The toxic substance accumulates in the tissues of seafood and fish, with those at the top of the food chain containing potentially toxic levels, thus exposing people to it mainly through ingestion. As a neurotoxin, methylmercury attacks the brain and nervous system, causing problems for the kidneys and developing fetuses.

To combat this, researchers at Flinders University created a sulphur-limonene polymer using two waste products- sulfur and citrus peel — to act as a mercury trap. The dark red material works by attracting mercury, which binds firmly to the polymer, turning it yellow-green in the process.

With production costs relatively low, the non-toxic material may be used to coat pipes and as filters, or even in large-scale cleanup operations for heavily contaminated areas, reports Business Insider Australia.

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