2019 | Canada | Emily Mah, Jazlyn McGuinty

A Heavy Metal Extraction Process to Clean Contaminated Water Using Tannin-Embedded Biopolymers

Water issue adressed: Too dirty
At Canada-Wide Science Fair.

Throughout developing and developed countries, and especially locally in northern Ontario, the proliferation of mining and smelting operations continues to occur. This industry is crucial to the economic development and states of nations across the globe. This impact includes contamination of surrounding bodies of fresh drinking water with heavy metals. If accumulated in the human body, heavy metals can cause health effects including irreversible organ damage. Exposure to heavy metals can also impact the rate of growth of plants. To scientifically address this concern, an eco-friendly biopolymer was embedded with mechanically isolated tannins from oak leaves. The biopolymer was then used to extract sample heavy metals from contaminated water. The results were measured using the change in mass, change in clarity, change in concentration of metal in water, and the effects on radish seedling germination. It was found that using a tannin-embedded biopolymer is an economically and eco-friendly way to remove heavy metals from water.

This is how I came up with the idea for this project:

In 2024, a mining and smelting operation called the “Ring of Fire” will be developed across northern Ontario, Canada. This new development has the potential of being a major environmental concern because it may pollute nearby ecosystems that include Canada’s water systems.


Ania Andersch

Programme manager ania.andersch@siwi.org +46 8 121 360 59