Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Investigating mercury pollution in Indonesia

26.09.2013
“The main source of this pollution today is small-scale gold mining,” says Prof. Inoue, who has been studying mercury poisoning in Indonesia for over 10 years. “Gold mining is easy to learn and simple to operate, so for people living on the poverty line, it offers hope for the future.”

Investigating mercury pollution in Indonesia: Professor Takanobu Inoue of Toyohashi Tech’s Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering has been conducting field surveys of mercury poisoning in Indonesia for over a decade. His findings have serious implications and the situation is not improving.

Professor Takanobu Inoue of Toyohashi Tech’s Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering has been conducting field surveys of mercury poisoning in Indonesia for over a decade. His findings have serious implications and the situation is not improving.

“The main source of this pollution today is small-scale gold mining,” says Inoue, who is an expert on water environmental engineering. “Gold mining is easy to learn and simple to operate, so for people living on the poverty line, it offers hope for the future.”

When there is no sophisticated technology available, gold mining involves simply mixing mercury and water with gold ore to form an amalgam. The mixture is then heated to remove the mercury by evaporation—most likely without any filtering— leaving behind the gold, while the water containing mercury residue is usually discarded directly into rivers.

Mercury is a heavy metal that can cause disability and death to miners, and to their families who become exposed to it through contaminated clothing and other items. Chronic poisoning can result in damage to the kidneys and the reproductive system, while the lungs and central nervous system can also be severely affected.

“It is necessary to educate the people on the dangers of mercury poisoning,” says Inoue. “But there are few environmental researchers in the country, and the equipment they have to test for poisoning is limited, as are funds and government support.”

As a result, quantitative information on the extent of mercury pollution each year is scare and often inaccurate. The United Nations Environment Program, for instance, estimated that in 2011 approximately 70 tonnes of mercury was discharged into the environment. “But this UN figure is based on the import of mercury into Indonesia,” says Inoue. “It does not take it account illegal imports, so the actual figure is certainly far higher.”

Inoue has been sharing his findings with individual professors of several universities in Indonesian. He is encouraging them to join the Indonesia Society of Water and Aquatic Environment, where information can be shared and scientific papers on pollution presented and published at conferences.

To help impress on his Indonesian colleagues the dangers that exist, Inoue describes findings on the Minamata disease that was discovered in Minamata city, Japan, in 1956. It was caused by the release of waste water containing mercury pollutants into Minamata Bay by a local chemical company, where it was ingested by marine animals, which were subsequently consumed by humans.

“We need research institutes to collaborate with each other to facilitate a comprehensive study on mercury pollution in Indonesia,” says Inoue. “Such cooperation will enable monitoring of mercury concentrations in gold mining and the impact of this environmental pollutant on local people.”

Further information
Toyohashi University of Technology, 1-1 Hibarigaoka, Tempaku, Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, 441-8580, JAPAN
Enquiries: International Affairs Division
E-mail: ryugaku@office.tut.ac.jp
TEL: +81-532-44-6577 or +81-532-44-6546
FAX: +81-532-44-6557
Website: http://www.tut.ac.jp/english/
About Toyohashi University of Technology
The Toyohashi University of Technology (Toyohashi Tech) is one of Japan's most innovative and dynamic science and technology based academic institutes. The Toyohashi Tech e-Newsletter is a quarterly publication to update readers on news, research and other activity at the university.

Adarsh Sandhu | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.tut.ac.jp/english/
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling of PET Bottles: New Ideas for Resource Cycles in Germany
25.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Betriebsfestigkeit und Systemzuverlässigkeit LBF

nachricht Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission
20.06.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microscopic trampoline may help create networks of quantum computers

17.07.2018 | Information Technology

In borophene, boundaries are no barrier

17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

The role of Sodium for the Enhancement of Solar Cells

17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>