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question: mercury air pollution from coal fired electric plants

question: mercury air pollution from coal fired electric plants - Chemistry Forum

question: mercury air pollution from coal fired electric plants - Chemistry Forum. Discuss chemical reactions, chemistry.


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  #1  
Old 12-12-2003, 06:25 AM
Archimedes Plutonium
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Default question: mercury air pollution from coal fired electric plants



On the Newshour tonight appeared the new EPA chief talking about
mercury in the air from coal fired electric power plants.

A question came to mind which I would like an answer. Why is mercury
associated with coal deposits? Is coal like a magnet for mercury? Is
mercury rather widespread throughout the crust and that something like
coal acts as a sponge for mercury? Or does mercury bind with most
materials and it is the burning of coal that the mercury is released
in concentrated form such that it is not anything special about coal
but more so from the "burning process".

I was just wondering if coal and mercury have some special affinity
for one another.

And while on the topic I would like an answer as to whether mercury in
the soil is taken up into plant and tree matter?

Archimedes Plutonium
whole entire Universe is just one big atom where dots
of the electron-dot-cloud are galaxies
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  #2  
Old 12-12-2003, 07:13 AM
hanson
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Default question: mercury air pollution from coal fired electric plants

"Archimedes Plutonium" <[Only registered users see links. ]> wrote in message
news:[Only registered users see links. ] m...

Hg is very mobile when in organic company, starting with Me2Hg.
HgR2's are produced biologically, organically as well as inorganically.
It moves and cycles thru all spheres: ocean - air - soil/rock - stream.
It goes thru the entire food chain of flora and fauna, including us.
When trapped in the flora it may get buried along and stay there
during the process of degradations from peat to anthracite coal.
When trapped in you, you can get rid of it by getting loaded for a couple
of days with plenty EtOH in form of whisky or vodka which makes
the mercury evaporate thru your skin out of your body as HgEt2 gas.
That was the standard remedy for Hg poisoning in the olden days.
It is at least a effective as the modern chelation therapies, and
certainly more fun.
Google:
volatile mercury compounds -- 73,300 hits.
volatile organic mercury compounds -- 70,800 hits.
hanson


"Archimedes Plutonium" <[Only registered users see links. ]> wrote in message
news:[Only registered users see links. ] m...


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  #3  
Old 12-12-2003, 08:52 AM
jacques jedwab
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Default question: mercury air pollution from coal fired electric plants

In article <[Only registered users see links. ]> ,
[Only registered users see links. ] (Archimedes Plutonium) wrote:


Coals at different diagenetic and metamorphic stages concentrate naturally
more than 30 trace elements, among which several heavy elements like I,
Hg, Cd, Ge, As, U...But the trace element accumulators may be either the
organic matter sensu stricto, or the carbonates, the clay minerals, the
sulfides, the graphitized carbon...Huge literature available.

Heating and burning coal release these elements, frequently combined with
S (sulfate, sulfide, thiosulfate, etc.). Ge is specially mobile as
chloride. Several new minerals form by condensation in stacks, burning
tailing heaps, etc.

IMHO, a burning heap releases much more obnoxious elements over decades
than a smelter stack, but I have no hard data.

J.J.
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  #4  
Old 12-12-2003, 06:22 PM
Tim Worstall
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Default question: mercury air pollution from coal fired electric plants

[Only registered users see links. ] (jacques jedwab) wrote in message news:<[Only registered users see links. ].ac.be>...

I've seen this before and was peripherally involved in a project in
Russia to use coal fired power plants as a source of Ge. Do youhave
any further information on the chemistry of this process ? I'm
interested in seeing if the idea can be revived.

Tim Worstall

Several new minerals form by condensation in stacks, burning
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  #5  
Old 12-13-2003, 08:13 AM
Archimedes Plutonium
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Default how does mercury kill Re: question: mercury air pollution from coal fired electric plants

[Only registered users see links. ] (jacques jedwab) wrote in message news:<[Only registered users see links. ].ac.be>...


Thanks, someone emailed me that lignite has an affinity to mercury as
written up in Oct 54 Scientific American.

I wonder if someone can answer me a question as to how exactly these
three toxic substances actually kills a person:
(1) mercury
(2) lead
(3) gasoline

I understand all three are accumulative poisons. I know that lead
starts to affect the brain and mercury also. But does lead and mercury
finally kill the human by stopping the heart from beating?? I don't
know, perhaps some medical doctor knows the answer.

I know that gasoline is porous through the skin and accumulates in the
body and goes to the liver. So does gasoline kill a human?? and how??

I wonder if the means of death of humans by mercury and lead have some
pattern in common.

But I also wonder that if mercury and lead are somehow vital
ingredients needed by animals in order to live, mind you in tiny
amounts and that no person on Earth is 100% free of either mercury or
lead. One supporting detail for this Conjecture is that Bismuth, the
last and heaviest stable isotope if found as a necessary element in
all animals. If Bismuth is necessary in all animals of large size such
as humans, then it is reasonable to conjecture that mercury and lead
are necessary for a full life, albeit in trace amounts.

Archimedes Plutonium
whole entire Universe is just one big atom where dots
of the electron-dot-cloud are galaxies
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  #6  
Old 12-13-2003, 02:57 PM
Mxsmanic
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Default how does mercury kill Re: question: mercury air pollution from coal fired electric plants

Archimedes Plutonium writes:


They hardly ever _kill_ people, although gasoline is probably the most
likely to do so.

Heavy metals such as mercury and lead produce characteristic
degenerative syndromes that vary in the details with the exact metal
that is causing the poisoning. Usually there is slow neurological
damage, kidney damage, and damage to other organ systems. Since most
poisonings are sublethal and/or cumulative over long periods, death is
uncommon, but symptoms can eventually become severe. Treatment is slow
and difficult, and some harmful effects of heavy-metal poisoning cannot
be reversed.

Infants, children, and unborn fetuses are particularly susceptible to
heavy-metal poisoning. Organic compounds of heavy metals are often much
more poisonous than the elemental metal itself. For example, the
toxicity of elemental mercury ingested orally is relatively low, but
methyl mercury is very poisonous.


They rarely kill at all. It would take a huge dose over a very short
period to produce death. Usually the poisoning is so gradual that it is
discovered long before that. Children are more likely to die; in the
case of lead, encephalopathy (from swelling of the brain) can cause
death. AFAIK, the heart is relatively unaffected.


Ingestion of gasoline usually does most of its damage mechanically by
damaging the GI tract. It eventually produces low blood pressure and
circulatory collapse. It might take weeks to produce death, even after
acute ingestion.

I'm not aware of cumulative poisoning problems through the skin,
although I suppose that's possible for someone who is constantly
handling gasoline. Leaded gasoline can produce lead poisoning, too.


Yes, a lot of heavy-metal poisoning shares characteristics in common,
with mercury and lead being the most common offenders.


Neither element is required for survival in human beings. They are
always contaminants. Very small amounts are tolerated well, though, so
even though everyone probably has trace amounts of mercury and/or lead
in his body, it does no harm in those small amounts.


I don't know if it is required for life, but some medications contain
it, notably diarrhea remedies like Pepto-Bismol. Then again, some
medicines have traditionally contained mercury, too, such as some
diuretics.

--
Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.
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  #7  
Old 12-13-2003, 08:15 PM
Archimedes Plutonium
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Default conjecture that mercury/lead are trace vitamins Re: how does mercury kill

Mxsmanic <[Only registered users see links. ]> wrote in message news:<[Only registered users see links. ]>. ..

Thanks for the large amount of information. Can you say specifically
how methyl mercury actually kills a person? If I were to guess I would
guess that it stops or hinders the nerves of either the heart from
beating or lung from breathing.
How does methyl mercury kill? And I suppose the methyl part aids in
the transportation and accumulation of the mercury to affect the vital
organs so much more rapidly.

Question: then, can a chemist concoct a potion of lead-- methyl lead
for instance that increases the toxicity of lead??




My understanding is that once gasoline is spilled onto the skin that
it penetrates inside the body and goes directly to the liver area.
Some is removed by the liver but some remains and is accumulated and
that if the body gets too much gasoline the liver will fail and the
person dies.




I beg to differ. I am going to Speculate and Conjecture that animals
of a large size need trace amounts of mercury, lead in their bodies.
Trace vitamins is an apt description. I am going to speculate that the
function of sleeping is connected to the amount of lead or mercury
inside the animal body. And that a human who is 100% absent of mercury
and lead in the body has a difficult time of sleeping properly. Of
course, every human walking on Earth has some lead and mercury inside
their body. But some infants and babies born have none. They soon will
get some the moment they eat some fish or other meat products.

By the way, Prion Disease theory the last time I tackled that subject
I said that the Varieties of Prion disease matched the varieties of
Copper, Zinc and other metal ions. We have a variety of metal ions in
chelation and we have a variety of Prion types and I proposed that the
different types of metal ions matches the different flavors or
varieties of prion proteins. But also, I want to include the idea that
perhaps Prion Disease is catalyzed or increased hugely by the
introduction of some heavy metal poisoning such as mercury or lead. So
that when the Kuru was spread or when the London outbreak occurred or
when the England Mad Cow disease occurred was because of perhaps the
eating of mercury or lead into the food supply which then gets stuck
in the brain manufacturing site of normal prions and turns those
prions into diseaseprions. In this manner, prion disease is hereditary
because of the environment of metals in the food supply.


Yes, if bismuth is useful to the human body as a form of medication
implies that this heaviest of stable elements further implies that
mercury and lead in tiny amounts to the body are beneficial in some
manner for which we are presently unaware of. Since bismuth is
beneficial to digestive system and since mercury and lead seem to
impair and damage the brain area of the body suggests that mercury and
lead in tiny amounts is probably important for a vibrant healthy mind.

NOTE: all of the above is Conjecture and no-one should intake, eat,
drink any mercury or lead. It is certain they are Poisons. It is
unknown whether they are essential as trace-vitamins. That is what I
want to try to figure out.

But if Bismuth is a medicine and knowing that it is the heaviest and
last stable element then that fairly well indicates that all the other
elements lighter than bismuth are so to speak "essential trace
vitamins".

Archimedes Plutonium
whole entire Universe is just one big atom where dots
of the electron-dot-cloud are galaxies
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  #8  
Old 12-13-2003, 10:45 PM
Steve Turner
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Default conjecture that mercury/lead are trace vitamins Re: how does mercury kill

[Only registered users see links. ] (Archimedes Plutonium) wrote:


A recent well-publicised fatality caused by dimethylmercury was Dr.
Karen Wetterhahn, in June of 1997. You might try searching archives
using those keywords.


Sure. Tetraethyl lead. These organometallic compounds are readily
absorbed by biological systems; that is what makes them so toxic.

Steve Turner

Real address contains worldnet instead of spamnet
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  #9  
Old 12-13-2003, 10:49 PM
Steve Turner
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Default conjecture that mercury/lead are trace vitamins Re: how does mercury kill

[Only registered users see links. ] (Archimedes Plutonium) wrote:


You are, of course, free to speculate. But your speculations won't
cross into the realm of science until you can reproducibly demonstrate
the effect under controlled conditions.


This does not follow.


This does not follow either. Both are complete non sequiturs.

Steve Turner

Real address contains worldnet instead of spamnet
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  #10  
Old 12-14-2003, 12:57 AM
Teel Adams
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Default question: mercury air pollution from coal fired electric plants

On a follow-up question, and one that puzzles me greatly, why is the
Illinios basin coal, an extremely high sulphur coal, one of the lowest, if
not the lowest American basin? I suspect it has something to do with the
environment of formation, the volcanic activity at the time of formation, or
something I've not thought about.

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