Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Mercury on the horizon


University of Nevada study finds plants assimilate mercury from air

Mercury gets around. A naturally occurring contaminant, mercury is found in water and soil but scientists are not exactly sure how mercury makes its way through the environment. Concerns over increasing levels of mercury contamination have sparked fish consumption advisories in certain areas.

Knowing how mercury ends up in these locations, however, is an area of concern for environmental scientists. Researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno recently discovered that plants play a significant role in how mercury travels.

“Based on previous studies, what we originally thought was that mercury in soil would be absorbed through a tree’s roots, then released through the tree’s leaves into the air,” said Jody Ericksen, a Nevada graduate student who studied the contaminant for her master’s degree in Environmental Science and Health. “We were wrong. What happened is that the plants absorbed the mercury from the air.”

According to Nevada researchers, once a tree’s leaves contain mercury, those leaves eventually fall off, decay and mercury goes back into the soil, air and, ultimately, water.

According to Mae Gustin, associate professor in the university’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science, the results of the study could have global implications.

Mercury from coal-fired power plants, or from areas such as Nevada that have high levels of naturally occurring mercury, can be in the air for six to 12 months and can cross continents.

“Researchers who model how mercury travels through the environment tell us that even if the United States turned off all of its coal-fired power plants, we would still have mercury being deposited here because of China’s mercury emissions,” Gustin said. “For mercury controls to make a difference there has to be a global effort.”

The researchers’ study was published in a recent issue of Environmental Science & Technology, one of the most prestigious environmental science journals.

The study was funded with a grant from the EPA Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. Collaborators on the project included: Dave Schorran and James Coleman of the Desert Research Institute; Dale Johnson, a professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Science at the University of Nevada, Reno; and Steven Lindberg of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Bob Conrad | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>