Heavy metals detected in sargassum that reaches the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula

The sargassum reached the beaches of Yucatan, affected by it, the fishermen, residents and authorities implemented cleanings to remove excess algae. Photo: (Noti Yuc)

CICY asks institutes to take advantage of sargassum and avoid pollution of the beaches.

Mérida, Yucatán, (November 22, 2021).- Focused on identifying how sargassum is constituted to delimit what its multiple applications may be for the benefit of society, the project ‘Technical studies for the characterization of sargassum oriented to the generation of regulations associated with risks and its potential productive use’, reveals that the algae that annually they arrive at the coastal strip of the Yucatan Peninsula, have high levels of heavy metals. However, it is expected that this will not represent a major problem in its future use.

The director of the Renewable Energy Unit (UER) of the Yucatan Scientific Research Center (CICY), Dr. Raúl Tapia Tussell, explained that, although it is true that sargassum burr is a problem that mainly affects the peninsular region In terms of tourism, there are bodies and institutions that are currently working on creating alternatives to take advantage of the potential raw material.

This is precisely one of the objectives of the studies currently being carried out by CICY, in collaboration with other institutes. 

Heavy metals in sargassum 

Defined as a multidisciplinary project, the studies directed by Dr. Rosa María Leal, technical manager of the project and researcher at the CICY Water Science Unit, have shown that the presence of metals in sargassum “depends on the time and the arrival season, since the sargassum arrives in different concentrations ”, explains Tapia Tussell.

This is being demonstrated through traceability studies, that is, to inquire through multiple scientific tests if the final products will have the same heavy metal content with which sargassum arrives on the beaches. 

This will allow the millions of tons that land annually on the coasts of the Caribbean Sea to continue to be used for the extraction of alginates (fibers used in the food industry) and fucoidans (carbohydrates with applications in medicinal use), and be a source of renewable energy by generating biogas from algae.

By knowing the elemental composition of sargassum, it is also possible to take into account the responsible handling of the matter and reduce possible damage to the environment. An example of this, explains the director of the CICY EBU, is intrinsically linked to the liquid composition of the algae (80% water), which, when collected and deposited on the ground, its leachate has a potential impact on the mantle phreatic.

At the same time, an adequate treatment will help to control the odor produced by the decomposition of sargassum on the beach and the bad image it gives to national and international tourists. That is, with the studies, it is intended to avoid the emission of greenhouse gases such as hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide and methane.

Source: Sipse

The Yucatan Times



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