Mercury is typically released into the environment as elemental and ionic mercury. Ionic mercury is quickly washed from the atmosphere near the release site. Elemental mercury, however, can travel in the atmosphere for 3 to 24 months, contaminating soil and waterways. The EPA has publicly expressed concern over the current and future concentration levels in the nation’s lakes and rivers and the negative impacts to human exposure.
Mercury is naturally occurring in the earth’s crust and released with volcanic activity. Industrial activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels, ore processing, medical and municipal waste incineration, the use of dental amalgams, mercury switches and fluorescent light bulbs also contribute to the amount of mercury in the environment. The EPA and other agencies regulate the amount of mercury in air and water emissions, and also the amount allowed in materials requiring land disposal. The amount of mercury in ambient air is also regulated to ensure safe workplace exposure levels. Mercury in low concentrations within industrial waste can make it a regulated hazardous waste requiring documented transportation and disposal.
The EPA is focused on the reduction of mercury in consumer products, recycling of mercury wastes and also reducing emissions from industrial activities such as waste incineration, coal fired furnaces and Chlor-Alkali facilities that use mercury cells in the production of chlorine, caustic soda and related basic chemical products. The EPA indicates loss of sensory or cognitive ability, tremors, inability to walk, convulsions or possible death as the potential results of mercury exposure. Chronic exposure limits of 12 ppt in freshwater and 25 ppt in marine water (salt water) are acceptable under current guidelines from the EPA, however, specific industrial discharges may actually be required to be much lower than these concentrations.
As the level of mercury contamination can have very specific site requirements and unique chemistry, Siemens is capable of evaluation to determine which solution offers the most efficient and economical treatment option to meet removal requirements. Through extensive testing Siemens has developed multiple methods for the pretreatment of contaminated ground and surface waters, coupled with the use of targeted mercury-removal media and customized equipment for various applications. These treatment technologies have proven capable of reaching stricter requirements for mercury; levels not achievable with other currently available technologies such as ion exchange, activated carbon and precipitation. These mercury reductions have been achieved for elemental, ionic and organo-mercury in both wastewaters with both dilute and concentrated ionic backgrounds.
Siemens Water Technologies offers both permanent and service-based treatment options for handling mercury contaminationdissolved metals contamination. Our Potable Ion Exchange (PIX) Service approach integrates equipment and service option combinations, thereby minimizing a plant’s capital investment and reduces overall space requirements. The system vessels are selected based upon available manpower, space limitations, access limitation and the specific water quality required. PIX provides the ultimate flexibility to add or remove treatment capacity as your business grows or compliance limits change. If needs change, we can simply change the media types and/or tank size, thereby saving our customers significant capital expense.
Once exhausted, the exchange vessels are removed and replaced with fresh, DOT-compliant vessels and returned to service. For potable applications, the resins/activated carbon medias are removed from the site and delivered to a local resin regeneration facility for destruction and/or landfill.
Potable Ion Exchange Service minimizes the need for handling and on-site storage of chemicals and wastes for improved safety and compliance at your site. This option also saves valuable manufacturing space while minimizing your maintenance and installation requirements.
A local Siemens Water Technologies Sales and Technical Support specialist can assist in determining the next step for handling your mercury removal needs.
Mercury Removal Technologies:
Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) Adsorption
For more information about mercury removal, contact the Information Desk, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Eastern Standard Time: 1.866.926.8420 or 1.724.772.1402 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Potable Ion Exchange (PIX) Service
Mercury-Select Ion Exchange Resins
Activated Carbon Media
Activated Carbon Support Services
Mercury Q&A document