Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


BIOMERCURY — Result In Brief

Project ID: 505561
Funded under: FP6-NMP
Country: Germany

More power over mercury toxicity

Traces of mercury can be detected in seafood, terrestrial animals, plants and drinking water. Smart enzyme technology promises to put a halt to this threat and eventually remove the hazard for good.
More power over mercury toxicity
Mercury can be found in dental amalgam, light bulbs, laboratory equipment and other products, however, the metal and most of its compounds are considered toxic and harmful to the environment. Atmospheric emissions of mercury are deposited into the environment, polluting the food chain and ecosystems on which we humans depend.

In response, the EU-funded project 'Worldwide remediation of mercury hazards through biotechnology' (Biomercury) investigated a new eco-friendly and cost-effective microbe-based technology to remove mercury from polluted ecosystems.

The project set out to assess this new technology featuring smart biotechnological processes based on enzyme transformation. This highly innovative solution uses mercury-resistant bacteria to purify wastewater, groundwater, soil, air, coasts and rivers, in addition to gold and mercury mines.

Based on this premise, the project team examined long-term efficiency of the first industrial mercury removal plant that uses microbe technology, located in the Czech Republic. It also studied different components of the approach including safety, efficiency and cost effectiveness compared to previous methods.

A very important component of the project involved disseminating this valuable knowledge to countries and regions of the world which need to mitigate mercury contamination. These include Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Southern Europe, as well as South America. The project also liaised with relevant agencies in the United States that are concerned with applying the new technology.

Exploiting the latest advances in technology and science could eventually help remove a significant part of mercury pollution in the food chain and atmosphere. As the removal of this toxic material is now mandatory Europe's role in reducing contamination through the Biomercury project has proved extremely welcome.

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