Mar 16, 2009 | 5
The element arsenic, infamous in history as a poison – perhaps claiming the life of Napoleon Bonaparte – is a modern problem as well. The U.S. government lists arsenic as the most common toxin in the natural environment.
But what is poison to humans may be chow for so-called extremophiles, creatures that thrive in harsh environmental conditions unsuitable for nearly all other forms of life, including hot, acidic springs or oceanic thermal vents. Last year, for example, researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey found bacteria making a hardy living in Yellowstone National Park by using arsenic to conduct photosynthesis, the chemical process that converts sunlight into usable energy. Mind you, in humans arsenic in large quantities can kill in an hour, and smaller doses can lead to illnesses including cancer and foot growths known as keratoses.
Feb 3, 2009 | 3
Arsenic removal from drinking water is a priority for local water authorities, given that long-term exposure has been linked to a host of serious health problems, including cancer, nervous system damage and atherosclerosis (inflammation) in the arteries leading to the brain. That's why Water Technology Group, Inc., in Harvard, Mass., last week licensed arsenic-trapping technology from the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory (INL).
Water Technology Group–an affiliate of Northeast Water Solutions, Inc. in Warwick, R.I.–wants to use INL's Nano-Composite Arsenic Sorbent (N-CAS), a beadlike resin containing high concentrations of microscopic metal oxides, to improve its ability to catch arsenic in contaminated water. The company plans to make the beads available to Northeast Water as well as other water treatment companies doing arsenic remediation.
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