Scientists at the University of Burgos in Spain have developed a thin membrane for water quality monitoring that changes color when added to mercury-polluted water, according to a release from the Scientific Information and News Service.
The color change is visible with the naked eye. The exact concentration of mercury can be quantified when photographed with cameras like those in smartphones and tablets and run through image treatment software.
Mercury contamination mostly stems from industrial and mining byproducts seeping into the water supply, with most human exposure coming from consuming contaminated fish. This poses serious health risks to the public since it accumulates in the brain and kidneys and produces long-term neurological illnesses.
Image: Sign warns to avoid fish consumption due to contaminated waters (Credit: U.S. EPA)