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The Application of Fish Scales in Removing Heavy, Metals from Energy-Produced Waste Streams: The Role of Microbes

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In energy production, heavy metals pose significant contamination hazards. For example, the petroleum industry generates wastes that are often high in heavy metal concentrations. Heavy metals are very toxic and extremely deleterious to humans, plants, and animals. Application of fish scale to remove heavy metals is a very recent innovation. It is an environmentally appealing and economically attractive alternative to current heavy metal adsorbing materials. Previously, the adsorption phenomenon on this exotic waste material was explained by only physical-chemical reactions.

Biological effects on adsorption of heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and chromium were studied using Atlantic Cod scale. The difference in results between nonsterilized and sterilized experiments shows the microbial contribution to heavy metal removal. Results show a wide range of microbial contribution in removing chromium cations. For lead and arsenic cations, the effect is less. Measurement of pH gives some indication of the microbial role in the biosorption process and of the presence of possible microbial species.
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Keywords: biosorption; fish scale; heavy metals; microbes; toxic

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Engineering, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Publication date: September 1, 2003

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