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Worldwide remediation of mercury hazards through biotechnology

Final Report Summary - BIOMERCURY (Worldwide remediation of mercury hazards through biotechnology)

Mercury constitutes a severe environmental pollutant owing to its extreme toxicity, its atmospheric transport which allows it to travel throughout the earth as well as its accumulation in the food chain. The BIOMERCURY project aimed to assess a new microbe-based technology, which is environmentally friendly and cost-effective, in order to remove mercury from contaminated environments. The objectives of the project consisted in:
- evaluating the applicability of the new, microbe-based technology, which is a biotechnological process lying on the enzymatic transformation reactions of live mercury resistant bacteria, in order to clean up contaminated air, wastewater, groundwater, soil, the soil waste from former industrial operations, contaminated rivers, lakes, coastal areas, gold and mercury mines as well as mine tailings;
- monitoring the long-term performance of the operation of the first industrial microbe-based mercury removal plant;
- comparing the costs, safety and efficiency of this new biotechnological approach with the corresponding ones of the traditional methods;
- disseminating knowledge of this new biotechnological approach into regions such as in Eastern and Southern Europe, Asia, South America and Africa in which the need for mercury remediation is more urgent;
- coordinating activities and exchanging information with agencies of United States which were involved in implementing new control technologies such as technologies for coal fired power plants.