(L-R) David McLagan, Carl Mitchell and Frank Wania (supplied images)

U of T Scarborough researchers receive Governor General’s Innovation Award

Researchers from the University of Toronto Scarborough who developed an innovative air sampler that can monitor mercury pollution without using electricity or gas have won a Governor General’s Innovation Award.

The award celebrates excellence in innovation across all sectors in Canada and is given to individuals or teams whose innovations are “truly exceptional, transformative and positive in their impact on quality of life in Canada.”

Professors Carl Mitchell and Frank Wania of the department of physical and environmental sciences and former grad student David McLagan – now an assistant professor at Queen’s University – designed, developed and tested the Mercury Passive Air Sampler (MerPAS), which has been commercialized and is now being used in Canada and around the world.

Unlike active air samplers that rely on electricity and a supply of gas to run, MerPAS uses the natural movement of air and a carbon material to capture airborne mercury.

The real benefit of this design is that it can be used with almost no training and can be deployed in remote locations around the world, says Mitchell, who is an expert on pollution and mercury cycling in the environment.

“We are really pleased with the performance of MerPAS. For a long time, we were confident that it was going to be broadly useful and beneficial, so it’s really satisfying that others hold our work in high regard,” he says. 

Read the U of T Scarborough story