Synchrotron Radiation Technologies Fully Utilized to Study Healthy Effects and Ecological Toxicology of Mercury


Recently, IHEP scientists have published on (Science in China: Chemistry) their research results in studying the healthy effects and ecological toxicology of mercury by utilizing synchrotron radiation technologies. 

Mercury is one of the harmful heavy metal elements, which can cause nerve system disorder, liver and kidney diseases, even death. In 50s’ and 60s’ of the last century, the minamata disease, broke out in Japan, is the most typical case of mercury poisoning. According to estimates, loss of social productivity due to mercury poisoning can reach 8.7 billion USD each year In the United States. Mercury is of long distance migrating characteristics. In October, 2013, 92 countries and regions including China signed a global pact to control mercury pollution. Our country is a big country in mercury production, consumption and discharge, and one of the only two that still have mercury industries. To carry out studies on mercury healthy effects and its molecular mechanism is the need of developing the discipline, and the strategic needs of the country as well. 

Synchrotron radiation is of excellent characters such as high luminosity, accurate alignment and wide spectrum. The X-ray technologies based upon synchrotron radiation have unique advantages in element analysis and in atomic and molecular scale structure characterization. 

IHEP has the earliest synchrotron radiation facilities in our country. Scientists are making full use of the technologies (including X-ray absorption XANES and EXAFS, X-ray fluorescence analysis, X-ray diffraction, small angle scattering and microscopic imaging technologies) to study mercury distribution and chemical form in ecological system, and to further study mercury migration and the interactions between mercury and the organics and proteins. By far, more than 60 papers have been published.