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mercury - Mercury A element that is liquid at room...

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Mercury A element that is liquid at room temperature but can be in a solid, liquid or gaseous state – only metal liquid at room temperature. Applications of Mercury include 1) Thermometers 2) Industrial production of NaOH and Chlorine gas. 3) Fluorescent tubes 4) Batteries 5) Barometers 6) Switches
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The Mercury Cycle FEMS Microbiology Reviews 11 (1993) 297 – 316 G.M. Gadd
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Problems with Mercury Pollution Mercury is persistent in the environment Mercury bio-accumulates Causes health problems in higher organisms because of bio-accumulation Mercury is associated with many human health problems Causes developmental malformations Causes neurological problems
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Sources of Mercury Natural Mercury naturally in earth’s crust Hg 0 Volcanic Explosions Hg 0 Natural Gas Hg 0 Anthropogenic Industrial Combustion (eg. Coal) Cinnabar (HgS) Industrial processes Mining Agricultural Sources Hg +2
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Sources of Mercury From industrial manufacturing plants such as those that produce acetaldehyde, NaOH, Cl 2 Human activities, such as the deposition of sludge onto agricultural fields.
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Producers of Mercury 1) Power plants that burn coal for a energy source will release Mercury as byproduct. HgS + O 2 --> (600C) Hg + SO 2 In 1999, 48 tons of mercury were released as side products. 2) Burning of industrial waste (car batteries, flashlights, fluorescent light tubes) 3) Industrial production of mercury by various chemical reactions
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Mercury Emissions Journal of Chemical Crystallography, Vol. 33, No. 8, August 2003 Hutchinson and Atwood
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Forms of Mercury Appears in two states Mercury can exist as a metallic solid Hg 0 , which is volatile. It can also exist as a stable cation Hg +2 a) Hg +2 is toxic because it can bind to sulfydryl groups in enzymes and it can also attack the kidneys causing fatal kidney failure. However, since it only has a half life of 3 days in the blood it is rapidly excreted. b) Hg +2 can be converted to methylmercury(CH 3 Hg) by microbes. Methyl mercury is hydrophobic and accumulates in body
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Formation of methylmercury Occurs in anaerobic conditions such as deep soil, sediments, or in the depths of oceans. There are multiple mechanism for the conversion of Hg +2 to methyl mercury CH 3 Hg. sulfate-reducing bacteria produce H 2 S 1) Hg +2 + H 2 S ---- HgS +H 2 2) HgS + CH 3 - CH 3 Hg(II)
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Uptake of methyl Mercury In aquatic ecosystems methylmercury is absorbed by heterotrophs.
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