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Glutathione-functionalized melamine sponge, a mimic of a natural antidote, as a quick responsive adsorbent for efficient removal of Hg(II) from aqueous solutions

Xinyou Mao, Lan Wang, Chuanyi Wang, Eric Lichtfouse
Environmental chemistry letters 2018 v.16 no.4 pp. 1429-1434
World Health Organization, adsorbents, adsorption, antidotes, aquatic environment, aqueous solutions, drinking water, environmental protection, formaldehyde, glutathione, heavy metals, humans, ions, melamine, mercury, mercury poisoning, methylmercury compounds, microorganisms, sorption isotherms, China
Minamata disease is caused by methylmercury, which is produced by microorganisms from inorganic mercury ions, Hg(II), in the aquatic environment. Adsorption is a feasible method to remove Hg(II) from waters, but there are some drawbacks when using conventional adsorbents, for example, tedious solid–liquid separation, slow response, and excessive residual levels of mercury. In this work, a novel spongy adsorbent has been developed for Hg(II) removal via surface functionalization of melamine formaldehyde sponge by glutathione. This material mimics a natural antidote that removes trace heavy metals in the human body. Results show that the functionalized sponge displays a 99.99% removal efficiency for low concentrations of Hg(II) of 10 mg/L. As a consequence, the residual Hg concentration is lower than 0.005 mg/L, which is slightly below the standard for total mercury in drinking water, of 0.006 mg/L, formulated by the World Health Organization, and much lower that the discharge regulation standard, of 0.01 mg/L, set by the ministry of environmental protection of China. Adsorption kinetic studies indicate that the functionalized sponge has a fast response. Indeed, the adsorption equilibrium can be reached within 10 min, and about 80% of total adsorption capacities are reached in 1 min. Moreover, the maximum adsorption capacity of the glutathione-functionalized sponge is as high as 240.02 mg/g, as shown by adsorption isotherm. Overall our findings disclose the great potential of the developed sponge adsorbent for rapid and efficient removal of Hg(II) from water.