MerPAS is an innovative sampler for monitoring mercury pollution in the air. It runs without the need for electricity or gas, using controlled diffusion of air and a carbon material to capture mercury from the atmosphere. Designed, developed and tested by a research team comprised of David McLagan, Carl Mitchell and Frank Wania, the sampler has been commercialized and is being used in monitoring networks in Canada and world-wide, pointing the way to healthier air quality and a reduction of global mercury emissions.
MerPAS was developed through the collaboration of three innovators, all then at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC). Dr. David McLagan’s doctoral work in Environmental Sciences, supervised by Professors Carl Mitchell and Frank Wania and completed in 2018, provided the basis for the development, testing and implementation of MerPAS. The sampler was commercialized with Tekran Instruments Corporation, an environmental measurement technology leader serving industry, government, and research institutions, in 2018. Now an Assistant Professor in Environmental Geochemistry at Queen’s University, McLagan was awarded the Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal for his work on MerPAS, and continued his research as a research associate with Environment & Climate Change Canada, a German Science Foundation and NSERC funded postdoctoral fellow at the Technical University of Braunschweig, Germany, and a Teaching-Stream Assistant Professor in Physical and Environmental Sciences at UTSC. Carl Mitchell and Frank Wania are both Professors in UTSC’s Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences. Mitchell joined UTSC in 2008 after completing his doctorate in Physical Geography at University of Toronto and a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland, USA. Wania, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, received his doctorate in Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry from the University of Toronto in 1995. After two years as a scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research and three as an independent researcher, he joined UTSC in 1999.