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Fate and Transport of Mercury, Cadmium, Selenium, and Arsenic in the Presence of Growing Spirulina maxima
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As the global population continues to increase, protein production must also, necessitating the development of new food production technologies. Microalgae have been studied for their benefits toward livestock health and production. Additionally, microalgae can be grown in wastewater, allowing the allocation of freshwater resources elsewhere. However, wastewater contains contaminants that may be transferred to livestock that consume the microalgae. To study potential contaminant transfer to consumers and cultivators, Spirulina maxima was grown in a growth medium containing 1.66 nM Hg, 0.27 µM Cd, 7.1 µM Se, and/or 0.80 µM As, and resulting biomass, liquid, and gaseous effluent were analyzed for metal(loid) content. Hg was recovered primarily in biomass, Cd was recovered primarily in liquid, and Se and As were recovered almost completely in liquid, likely due to the composition of the growth medium, and volatilization accounted for small fractions of total recoveries.