Scientific Earth Conscientious

Scientific progress makes moral progress a necessity; for if man's power is increased, the checks that restrain him from abusing it must be strengthened (Madame de Stael)

Posts Tagged ‘A fresh solution for the problem lindane in the soil’

A fresh solution for the problem lindane in the soil

Posted by Scientific Earth Conscientious on October 22, 2013

At the UPV/EHU’s Department of Analytical Chemistry Itxaso San Román has studied whether iron nanoparticles can be applied to eliminate lindane, and how far they are capable of achieving this.

At the UPV/EHU’s Department of Analytical Chemistry Itxaso San Román has studied whether iron nanoparticles can be applied to eliminate lindane, and how far they are capable of achieving this.

For many years two companies located in Bizkaia, Bilbao Chemicals (Barakaldo 1947-1987) and Nexana (Erandio 1952-1982), had been manufacturing lindane and dumping it into the environment with no control whatsoever. Today we have become aware of the need to solve the problems caused by this dumping and the difficulty in achieving this since there is no viable process that will safely destroy the lindane mixed with the soil. A study by the UPV/EHU’s Department of Physical Chemistry and Analytical Chemistry in collaboration with Tecnalia has confirmed the hypothesis of the high reactive capacity of iron nanoparticles to degrade lindane. The study has been published in the prestigious journal Chemosphere.

Lindane has been routinely used among farmers as an insecticide and pesticide, and although its use has now been banned, the consequences of lindane manufacture and use have not disappeared. The risk posed by lindane lies in the fact that it is not only toxic, it can be accumulated in living organisms. From an environmental point of view, it has low solubility, high stability and high persistence and resistance to degradation in the environment.

Although there is as yet no viable process for safely destroying lindane, an innovative, efficient alternative is to use iron nanoparticles. Iron nanoparticles have shown themselves to be very effective as a decontaminating agent when it comes to handling various families of highly toxic compounds like lindane. However, they have a number of drawbacks that limit and hamper their application, since they oxidize easily in the presence of air and their tendency to agglomerate limits their mobility in the medium in which one is seeking to apply them. So the need to protect them is done by using Carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC), polyaspartate (PAP) and poly (acrylic acid) (PAA) as biodegradable polymer coatings.

From the laboratory to the land

“The main aim of our study was to validate on a laboratory scale whether these iron nanoparticles can be applied and whether they have the capacity to eliminate the lindane,” explained Itxaso San Román, member of the UPV/EHU’s Department of Analytical Chemistry. This requires advanced analytical techniques capable of monitoring the degradation process, which will take place in the presence of the various nanoparticles, determining the speed of the reaction and likewise detecting the possible by-products that are formed in the course of that reaction.

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