Taxonomy term

pollution

Survey says: U.S. lakes getting murkier

study of more than 1,000 lakes across the United States between 2007 and 2012 found that the number of murky green and brown lakes surpassed the number of clear blue lakes.

24 Dec 2018

Down to Earth With: Geologist Robert Brinkmann

As a child, Robert Brinkmann was always curious about rocks. He wondered how they got where they were and why they were different from each other. Brinkmann grew up in the farm country of southeastern Wisconsin, as well as in the woods in the northern part of the state. After one of his first geology classes in college, he went home and finally understood what he was looking at. “It was such an eye-opening experience to be able to read the landscape,” Brinkmann says.

09 Nov 2018

From farm to filter: Restored wetlands remediate nitrogen pollution

The early 20th-century invention of a nitrogen-fixation process revolutionized agriculture and made it possible to feed the planet’s growing population. But nitrogen runoff is polluting our waterways and suffocating aquatic life. Now, researchers looking for ways to reverse that trend are turning farmland into wetlands to filter nitrogen from streams and rivers.
20 Apr 2018

Battery recycling underlies elevated lead in African soils

Of all the recycling industries in the world, lead-acid battery recycling is one of the most profitable — and one of the most toxic. In the U.S., regulations on the industry have dramatically reduced lead exposure and pollution at battery recycling plants. But in Africa, where the industry is growing and largely unregulated, lead levels are skyrocketing. A new study in Environmental Research looking at environmental lead levels in seven African countries is shining a spotlight on the ongoing public health crisis.

19 Apr 2018

Acid rain triggered deadly Chinese landslide

On June 5, 2009, a catastrophic landslide killed 74 people in southwestern China. But a lack of recent earthquake activity or heavy rainfall left geologists questioning what had triggered the slide. A new study suggests that China’s acid rain may have played a role in weakening the limestone and shale slope in unexpected ways.

13 Apr 2018

Unexpected nanoparticles trace coal pollution

Coal burning produces an array of chemicals and particulates that, when released into the atmosphere, contribute to pollution, poor air quality and threats to public health. Measurements of particulate air pollution typically focus on particles called PM2.5, which have diameters of 2.5 micrometers or less. This group includes nano-sized particles, although these bits of minerals, dust and organics often go undetected because of their tiny size. In a new study, researchers sampling a coal ash spill have unearthed a type of nanoparticle not previously known to be produced by burning coal. While the particles might be useful in detecting pollution problems, they may also have consequences for human and environmental health.

24 Jan 2018

Pharmaceuticals in urban sediments reveal wastewater treatment effectiveness

People take pills to relieve headaches or syrups to ease a hacking cough, and eventually these medications can make their way into streams and rivers around the world as humans excrete the chemicals. Scientists are now using concentrations of common pharmaceutical products (PPs) in river sediments in Orléans, France, to determine how effective four water treatment plants have been at removing chemicals from the environment.

03 Nov 2017

Geologic Column: My China syndrome

The rapid pace of change in China over the last decade — witnessed by the author on a half dozen visits to his son who lives there — has been staggering.
28 Apr 2017

Maui reef degradation linked to contamination in coastal groundwater

Submarine groundwater discharge — the flow of fresh and brackish groundwater from land to sea — can transport contaminants to coastal ecosystems. But little is known about the direct impacts of this process on marine communities. In a new study published in PLOS ONE, researchers examined links between land use, water quality and coral reef health at coastal sites around Maui, finding that anthropogenic contaminants delivered via submarine groundwater are a source of chronic stress to nearshore marine ecosystems.

31 Mar 2017

Road salt may be a larger problem for lakes than thought

The U.S. Geological Survey reported that approximately 30 million tons of road salt were applied to U.S. roads during 2015 to speed up the melting of snow and ice. Recently, scientists have observed increasing impacts on ecosystems and water quality linked to its application. New research, for example, finds that road salt influx is geochemically disrupting the ecosystem health of urban lakes in Michigan, and it may even lead to rising methane emissions from the lakes.

19 Jan 2017

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