MERCURY - Development of viable technologies and monitoring systems for the remediation/detection of mercury in South American waters - Design of chelators with therapeutical properties
Mercury contamination in water due to mining, forest burning and industrial activities is a serious threat to aquatic and human life in South America. Typical examples are the Amazon Basin in Brazil (mercury levels in human hair reach up to 170 ppm while first intoxication symptoms appear at critical levels of 50 ppm), the Manu and the Chili rivers in Peru and several areas in Argentina. Mercury contamination in water had also been found in Europe (e.g. Spain). Water treatment had almost been non-existent in South America. Existing technologies for mercury removal lacked efficiency due to poor selectivity of materials used. The objectives of the project were: to design selective, recyclable and low cost receptors for i) 'on site' monitoring of mercury in water, ii) developing of a viable technology for mercury removal to be tested against phytoremediation agents based on natural resources of the region, and iii) exploring their potential for therapeutic use. The expected results were i) a new method for mercury detection, ii) novel receptors for mercury removal from water, and iii) background information for a more efficient treatment for mercury intoxication in humans.