Mercury Mop


Mercury, when dumped in water bodies, accumulates in fish and ends up on our plates. It can affect the brain and the nervous system and causes several ailments like Minamata disease. But current techniques to monitor the level of mercury in water are too expensive and complex. Researchers have now devised a simple, inexpensive nanoparticles-based system to detect toxic pollutants.

It consists of a strip of glass covered in hairy nanoparticles that can grab onto toxic heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium when dipped in water. A voltage-measuring device is then used to measure the level of pollutants in the water sample. More the ions trapped in the nano-velcro, higher the voltage. By varying the length of the nano-hairs, the scientists can target different kinds of pollutant.


Down to Earth, October 2012