Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | October 15, 2008

Lawyer Sanders says University of Michigan researchers develop an analytical method to track down source of mercury pollution from burning coal by unique fingerprint in each source of coal.

University of Michigan researchers have developed a new analytical tool that uses naturally occurring “fingerprints” of coal to track down its source.  The research is published in the online issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology. 


The researchers are trying to develop a way of identifying the specific sources of mercury pollution released by buring coal.  If all goes well, the researchers may be able to identify the source of mercury in contaminated soil and water, much as a detective matches a suspect’s fingerprints to those found at a crime scene.  That would allow them to determine what is the specific source of mercury pollution in a particular geographical areas.  For example, the researchers could determine the source of mercury in areas of the west coast impacted by coal-fired utility plants operating in China or India.


More work is needed to perfect the fingerprinting technique, but the researchers believe they will eventually be able to track down the source of mercury released into the environment from coal fired utility plants and other sources.


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