The Relationship of Childhood Gastrointestinal Illness, Untreated Groundwater, and Climate Change Precipitation

by Jasmine Kaur

The control of municipal surface water, groundwater, and private wells in the United States varies from place to place. In general, these regulations are minimal and do not mandate federal monitoring of water quality. This has led to reports of 4.3–16.4 million annual cases of gastrointestinal illnesses (GI) caused by pathogens found in public drinking water systems. Amongst the reasons for GI pathogens transported to the drinking water is increased run off from the increased precipitation association with climate change. Continue reading

Toxicity and Contamination by PCBs in Toulon Coast, France

by Grace Reckers

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a class of thermodynamically stable and lipophilic molecules that have been used throughout twentieth century industrialized projects. They have become a major topic of environmental concern for their persistence in sediments and contamination qualities that are hard to reverse. Their ability to imbed in sediments as toxic substances and resist rapid degradation have made it challenging to remove the molecules (each categorized as one of 209 ‘congeners’) and to eliminate their long-term toxic effects from the sediment they persist in. However, these qualities have also enabled scientists to examine historical levels of PCB usage by taking samples of varying sediment depths and recording changes in PCB concentration. Continue reading

Typhoid Fever Bacteria Detection in Fecal Contaminated Kathmandu Drinking Water

by Natalie Creekmur

  The quality of drinking water in the densely populated city of is a major concern. The Kathmandu region is home to an endemic of typhoid fever, a disease that causes a severe systemic infection in the human body. The bacterial pathogens that cause typhoid fever are Salmonella Typhi (S. Typhi) and Salmonella Paratyphi A (S. Paratyphi A). It is generally accepted that these two types of bacteria are transmitted via ingestion of contaminated food and drinking water or via human-to-human contact. In Kathamandu, the main water sources for the population are gravity-dependent stone waterspouts. The rainfall and snowmelt that sustain the waterspouts collect in soft-rock aquifers that act as natural reservoirs. This water is untreated and vulnerable to contamination. As a result, the areas surrounding the stone waterspouts experience increased S. Typhi and S. Paratyphi A infections in the population. Continue reading

Carcinogenic effects of Polluted Water in China

 

by Natalie Creekmur

Drinking water is susceptible to pollution by trace metals via both anthropogenic and natural processes. Heavy metals such as Cr, Mn, and Cu pose major health risks. Upon ingestion, trace metals are deposited in fatty tissues and in the circulatory system, and are not biodegradable. They can cause a variety of health issues including cancer, neurological disorders, and adverse affects to the endocrine system. Continue reading

Using a Freshwater Provisioning Index as a Water Management Tool

by Chloe Soltis

The majority of the world uses upstream water as its main resource for freshwater. Yet, pollution issues that result primarily from economic development continuously threaten these freshwater sources. Industrialized countries have the financial capital to engineer and build infrastructure such as dams and water treatment facilities to alleviate these issues. Developing countries do not have the means to build the same traditional infrastructure and therefore can struggle with proper water management. Green et al. (2015) realized the need for an integrated water management approach that accounted for different levels of social and economic development and decided to develop the freshwater provisioning index (FPIh). This index measures the amount of upstream freshwater resources available to the human populations living downstream while also taking into account global water source threats. Continue reading

Carcinogenic Effects of Polluted Water in China

by Natalie Creekmur

Drinking water is susceptible to pollution by trace metals via both anthropogenic and natural processes. Heavy metals such as Cr, Mn, and Cu pose major health risks. Upon ingestion, trace metals are deposited in fatty tissues and in the circulatory system, and are not biodegradable. They can cause a variety of health issues including cancer, neurological disorders, and adverse affects to the endocrine system. Continue reading

Creating Risk Indexes to Evaluate Major Water Pollution Sources

by Chloe Soltis

Water pollution is an issue that affects nearly every country with industrial development. This hazard is not only toxic to the environment but also dangerous to citizens’ health. Yet realistically, no society has unlimited resources or funds to address this concern. Therefore, the creation of a risk indexes (RI) that can systemically identify major sources of water pollution allows countries to more effectively prevent further damage and focus their cleanup efforts at the most hazardous sites. Yao et al. (2015) use a combination of two mathematical models and an expert consultation method to produce integrated risk indexes (RI) that categorizes the risk of different water pollution sources in the Taihu Basin of China. Their study area encompasses Shanghai and the Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. The basin struggles specifically with surface water pollution since none of its water samples have met national standards. Continue reading

Sediment Ecotoxicological Stats for the Evaluation of Surface Water Quality: the Ebro River Basin

by Rebecca Herrera

Roig et al. (2014) assess various sites along the Ebro river basin and collect information on each site’s ecotoxicological status. The data are then used to complement traditional means of evaluating surface water quality. The researchers compare the effectiveness and viability of different ecotoxicicty tests, otherwise known as bioassays, performed with freshwater sediments, and evaluated the relationship between ecological status, pollutant concentrations and pore water and sediment ecotoxicity to make recommendations to the European Water Framework Directive (WFD). Their findings showed a high correspondence of the ecotoxicological measurements to prior measurements of ecological status, especially when ecosystem disruption due to numerous stressors was observed. Continue reading

Micro-Plastic Pollution in the Great Lakes

 

by Emil Morhardt

Here’s a follow-on to our August 21 post on plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean. I know that this is unrelated to climate change, but the Climate Vulture is also interested in other environmental issues. Eriksen et al. (all associated with 5 Gyres Institute in Los Angeles in addition, in some cases, to their day jobs), are intent on tracking plastic pollution globally. This paper looks at the American Great Lakes, and consisted of a survey cruise across lakes Erie, Huron, and Superior in July 2012, towing a net for an hour at each of 21 sites. All but one sample were contaminated with micro-plastic debris, but with more than 90% of the plastic collected in Lake Erie off Buffalo and Cleveland. The average abundance was over 43,000 plastic particles per square kilometer (the densest samples had ten times this much), plus a lot of coal and fly ash particles, presumably from the many coal-fired power plants surrounding the lakes. Much of the debris consisted of multi-colored spherical micro-beads on the order of a third of a millimeter in diameter. Many of the potential sources such as sandblasting media were ruled out because Continue reading