A cheap new method has been suggested to help against pollution, and orange peels could be the answer to clean up our oceans when mixed with another type of waste.
- Mercury is highly toxic for both animals and humans
- The new compound to fight off the metal is made out of sulfur and limonene
- Industries produce 70 million tons of sulfur per year, and 70,000 tons of limonene (found in orange peels)
- The sulfur-limonene compound will clean the waters from mercury, and turn yellow to indicate its presence
Researchers at the Flinders University in Australia have come up with a way to put waste to better use. Their solution would aid against decreasing the heavy mercury pollution that litters our waters and seeps into our soil. The biggest perk? It’s widely available, in low demand, and it could be very cheap to develop.
The two scientists found a way to create a beneficial polymer, made out of sulfur and limonene. The good news is that both of them are found in high supplies. Due to the oil and gas industry, we see to 70 million tons of sulfur produced every year. And the citrus industry produces 70,000 tons of limonene each year as well, a substance which is found in high concentrations in orange peels.
Combining one with the other will result in a sulfur-limonene polysulfide, which will be cheap to make and would efficiently remove metals, including the hazardous mercury, from our oceans. The compound has tremendous potential of being processed into coatings for pipes or directly applied into waters to combat spills.
According to lead authors of the study, Justin Chalker, it’s a serious problem to consider given the high amount of mercury poisoning our food and water supplies. Finding a cost-effective and beneficial solution is an increasingly severe need for our population’s health. And, with the sulfur-limonen polysulfide, it can technically be said that their supplies for the beneficial compound “literally grows on trees”.
Furthermore, the mix is initially a dark red in color, and then turns yellow when it comes into contact with mercury. This implies that it could be an excellent tool to measure the amount of the toxic metal in waters. It could be essentially used to detect, and neutralize the dangerous substance. This will have significant implications and positive effects on human health.
Mercury is heavily toxic, and seeps into the soil from mining or coal plants. The danger is that it has the ability to transfer slowly but surely. It drips into the soil and sea, accumulates in fish and plants, and then travels further up the food chain. For both animals and humans, mercury exposure is dangerous.
It can absorb easily through skin, breathed in, or eaten through the meat we consume. Mercury has the potential of damaging the brain, kidneys, lungs and our nervous system, plaguing many areas around the world.
The new compound addresses the urgent need of providing better health for our waters, and in turn, for ours. It’s using waste to destroy waste.
Image source: healthyfoodstyle.com