Taxonomy term

water quality

Western wildfires affect water quality

Wildfires have burned increasing acreage in recent decades, a trend that’s expected to continue with global climate change. In the U.S. West, the frequency of fires has implications for water availability — both water used to fight wildfires and municipal water supplies, which can be contaminated by loosened debris from eroding, fire-burned slopes.

09 Jan 2018

Antimony may have poisoned Pompeii's drinking water

The ancient Romans may have had advanced water distribution systems, but the water pipes they used were highly toxic. Many Roman-era water pipes were lined with lead, leading some archaeologists to suspect a public health crisis among Romans that may have contributed to the empire’s eventual fall. But others point out that the high levels of calcium carbonate in the Romans’ water supply would have quickly coated the pipes with scale, limiting the exposure of drinking water to lead. However, a new study suggests lead wasn’t the only concern: A sample of pipe from Pompeii dating to A.D. 79 has shown that the Italian city’s drinking water may have also contained alarmingly high levels of antimony. Antimony is an acutely poisonous element, ingestion of which can lead to severe vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and/or death from ailments such as kidney failure and cardiac arrhythmia.

23 Nov 2017

Troubled waters: Lead lurking in U.S. water supplies

In 2014, Flint, Mich., started drawing its drinking water from the highly corrosive Flint River, which leached lead from old pipes, exposing the population to lead poisoning. Such aging infrastructure exists in towns across the nation, leaving many to wonder if what happened in Flint could happen to them. The answer in many cases is yes.
30 Oct 2017

T-A-P (Testing, Awareness, Prevention)

Not all water corrosivity issues are obvious. For this reason, Ryan Gordon, a hydrogeologist at the Maine Geological Survey, recommends that regular tests be conducted at least once every three years.

30 Oct 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

Geologic Column: Beer's secret ingredient: geology

Geologists have a long history with beer. Earlier this year, I decided to raise my own beer appreciation to the next level and take a class on the subject. I attended the beer school at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis. A few minutes into the class, our instructor noted that the beer-brewing process uses clean water, which, he said, is basically the same no matter where you are. Unfortunately, that got us off on the wrong foot.

20 Dec 2013

Neutralizing the rain: After much success in the battle against acid rain, challenges remain

Every Tuesday at 9 a.m., Dave Warner collects water from a white plastic 3.5-gallon tub that sits on a strip of tall grass between two cornfields at the University of Nebraska Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead, Neb. For more than 30 years, the bucket has collected all forms of precipitation — from hail to rain to snow — to be analyzed for nitric and sulfur oxides, the main components of acid rain.

21 Jun 2012

Down to Earth With: Evan Thomas

At age 16, Evan Thomas made a list of 100 life goals — his bucket list. At only 27 years old, he’s done pretty well so far: Graduate college with a degree in aerospace engineering — check. Get a doctorate by age 25 — almost (missed by 11 days). Work for NASA — check. Start a business, help people, travel the world — check, check, check. Get a private pilot license — check. Climb the world’s tallest mountains — in process.
 
02 May 2011

Impossible Odds, Irrepressible Hope: Pakistan's water woes and the science that can solve them

Most residents of developed countries don’t think about their water running out or worry about their water leading to the death of their children. In Pakistan, those are distinct possibilities.

05 Oct 2010

Science and soccer: They're both child's play

It’s late in the afternoon, and by now, 9-year-old Claire Dworsky has already answered questions like mine many times over. But, when I approach the crowd of people standing by her poster at the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) annual meeting in San Francisco, Calif., she jumps up from her chair and politely gives me her full attention. I ask her to explain her project, and she launches into her explanation, never turning to look at the poster behind her for backup, or at the adults nearby who are watching her with pride.

13 May 2010