A new computational tool developed at Michigan Technological University assists in the urgent quest to eliminate the persistent chemicals known as PFAS from community water supplies.
Because of their unique properties, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are used everywhere in daily life — from water-repellent clothing and nonstick cookware to pizza boxes, ski wax, fast food wrappers and firefighting foam.
“PFAS contain a very strong carbon-fluorine bond, not easily degraded by biological activities,” said Daisuke Minakata, an associate professor of civil, environmental and geospatial engineering. “PFAS can remain in the environment almost forever; thus, they are called ‘the forever chemicals.’ They end up contaminating our groundwater and surface water, our waterways, and eventually our drinking water and ecological systems, too — including freshwater fish.”
Researchers from the University of Iowa are looking to aggregate data and develop an algorithm for communities to identify their individual risk of lead exposure in their drinking water.
Researchers at the University of Iowa are developing a system for residents and public health officials that will allow them to more easily detect lead in drinking water across the state.
The research involves collecting data and developing an algorithm to predict where individuals are most at risk for lead exposure in their communities and the resulting ailments.
David Cwiertny, principal investigator for the study and UI professor of civil environmental engineering, said he and his team hope to create a system to prevent the negative health effects that can occur from ingesting lead. While the team has been broadly researching lead contamination in water for four years, the research for the system has been going on for two years.
Road salt, while helping to keep streets and sidewalks safe during winter weather, can have a big negative impact on streams and rivers and the freshwater creatures that inhabit them. New research from the University of Maryland posits stages of freshwater salinization, modeled after the stages of cancer. In the final stage, Stage IV, waterways suffer “system-level failures,” posing a threat to human health and aquatic life.
Sujay Kaushal, the UMD professor who led the study, says tracking the health of a body of water is similar to tracking the health of a human body. “If you don’t know where you are on the scale of your blood sugar or your cholesterol, you don’t know whether you have a problem or not,” Kaushal says. “When we have risk factors, guidelines and stages, we can effectively manage things.”
Unlike other pollutants, salt is not currently regulated at the federal or local level, though many jurisdictions have made efforts in recent years to cut back.
Major rivers in the Amazon Basin of Brazil are contaminated with a wide range of pharmaceuticals as well as with sewage and wastewater, largely coming from urban centers in the region, according to recent research. Water samples taken along the Amazon, Negro, Tapajós and Tocantins rivers, and small urban tributaries that pass through the region’s cities, including Manaus, Santarém, Belém and Macapá contained 40 pharmaceuticals out of 43 in concentrations that have the potential to affect 50-80% of the local aquatic species. Experts explain that a major cause of freshwater contamination is the Amazon Basin’s rapidly growing population along with the government’s failure to provide adequate sanitation infrastructure — even though that has long been promised. Most of the region’s sewage is untreated, a solvable problem if properly funded.
High schoolers at Barrie Middle and Upper School in Silver Spring, USA, are tackling the issue of lead pollution in drinking water. They have designed a cheap, reusable cartridge filter that removes this toxic heavy metal from tap water, and warns when the chemical cartridges it uses need to be refreshed.
The issues people have been having with drinking water fed through lead piping are already well known. The plight of people in Flint, Michigan, is one tragic example. Lead exposure from drinking water can lead to a host of medical issues, ranging from cardiovascular complications to cognitive and reproductive problems.
High schoolers have now joined the efforts to protect people from this toxic metal by designing a simple device that can scrub it out of tap water.
Colorado is taking a “hard pause” on investigating the viability of demand management, a program that would allow the state to pay water users to temporarily and voluntarily conserve water and store what’s saved in Lake Powell for future use.
“No more energy spent on this right now,” Colorado Water Conservation Board chair Jaclyn Brown said this week. “Until the facts change; until someone brings us new information.”
Demand management was a key component of the 2019 Drought Contingency Plans agreed upon by all seven states in the Colorado River Basin. The idea was that the Upper Basin states — Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — would each investigate the feasibility of paying water users to conserve water on a temporary and voluntary basis and then store the extra in Lake Powell in a special 500,000 acre-foot “account.” Then, if needed, that water could later be used by the Upper Basin states to meet delivery requirements specified in the Colorado River Compact.
Tribes and environmentalists say the country’s last operational uranium mill has become a low-cost industrial waste dump that could imperil land and groundwater in the Colorado River Basin and at nearby Bears Ears National Monument.
They want it to close or be subject to stricter regulations to avoid a catastrophic incident like the 2015 Gold King mine spill, which contaminated both the Animas River and the nearby San Juan River.
A report issued by the Grand Canyon Trust March 15 said the White Mesa Mill in southeastern Utah, which opened in 1980 to extract uranium from mined ore, had been converted into a lower-cost alternative to a highly regulated toxic waste facility using what the trust calls a “radioactive Midas touch,” a licensed “alternative feed” mill that reprocesses used ore and low-level waste to extract more uranium and rare earths.
California proposed on Monday a long-awaited standard for a cancer-causing contaminant in drinking water that would require costly treatment in many cities throughout the state.
Traces of hexavalent chromium are widely found in the drinking water of millions of Californians, with some of the contamination naturally occurring and some from industries that work with the heavy metal.
The proposed standard is a major step in a decades-long effort to curtail the water contaminant made infamous by the movie Erin Brockovich, based on residents of rural Hinkley, California who won more than $300 million from Pacific Gas & Electric for contamination of their drinking water.
Fearing development in Colorado, Nebraska plans canal to lay claim to water from South Platte River before its neighbor uses it up.
JULESBURG, Colo.—The South Platte River is the economic heart of this small town in the northeast corner of the Rocky Mountain state, feeding farmers’ crops and drawing hunters who shoot deer, snow geese and other waterfowl.
Soon it could run dry for nearly half the year because of a fight over a 99-year-old water-sharing compact between the states of Colorado and Nebraska that could end up in court.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced plans in January to build a canal into Colorado to drain water from the South Platte several miles upstream from Julesburg, which is allowed under a 1923 agreement between the states. The $500 million project, consisting of some 60 miles of canals and several reservoirs, would be one of the biggest nonfederal interstate water infrastructure projects in decades.
Flooding is second to only heat for the most weather-related fatalities each year.
Flooding may not appear to be as deadly as tornadoes or hurricanes, but you should respect the power of water.
Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard, according to the National Weather Service. Last year, there were 57 fatalities that were flood related in the U.S. Flooding is second to only heat in weather-related fatalities for the 10 and 30 year averages.
Flooding is the most common global natural disaster, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also say that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water.