Quick Test Can Measure Mecury Pollution


SALT LAKE CITY, Oct. 7 (UPI) — A U.S. researcher says he’s come up with a fast, inexpensive test for mercury pollution that could be useful for developing countries like China and India.

Mercury pollution is a persistent problem in countries where coal-burning remains a major resource of power generation, making water and soil unusable and posing significant health risks to people.

University of Utah researcher Ling Zang says he hopes to address the growing problem with a new test for detecting mercury that promises to be faster and cheaper than conventional tests that require samples to be sent to a laboratory, take weeks to produce result and are expensive.

Zang says an article about how mercury binds to DNA inspired him to identify the strong, specific binding between mercury and the DNA base thymine and use that to measure mercury concentrations, a university release said Friday.

The test can detect mercury down to 0.20 parts per billion, well below the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard of 2 ppb for drinking water, Zang said.

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