"Environment" research area

Removing Mercury and Microorganisms from Minnesota Waters

Primary Investigator - AbbasPrimary Investigator Abdennour Abbas
Co-Investigators: NA
Industry Partners3M and Solenis LLC
Award Type: Seed Grant - Postdoctoral Research Scholar 

Problem: In 2004, two-thirds of all impaired waters in Minnesota were contaminated with mercury, with some waterways containing more than 6 times the EPA limit. As a result of pregnant women consuming contaminated fish, 10 percent of tested newborns in the North Shore region showed levels of mercury exposure exceeding the EPA limit.

Solution: The Abbas lab recently developed a selenium-containing sponge that removes over 99 percent of mercury from water and prevents unwanted bacterial growth. Now, the lab will develop a composite sponge with additional layers that remove all microorganisms, including fungi, bacteria, and viruses. 

Impact: Selenium sponges are cost-efficient and will eliminate toxic byproducts of current mercury filtration systems. Improving the filtration of mercury and microorganisms will improve the health of local ecosystems and lower exposure of contaminants for the people around them.