UMaine scientist: PFAS affects species of plants, animals differently

Apr. 24—POLAND — A scientist from the University of Maine tackled one of the more well publicized — but far less understood — issues facing many Mainers: forever chemicals.

Excelsior Grange hosted the PFAS discussion Friday, with more than a dozen in attendance.

Per- and polyfluorinated substances, commonly referred to as PFAS or “forever chemicals,” are a group of more than 4,000 man-made chemicals commonly found in nonstick and water-resistant surfaces on cookware, clothing, furniture, food packaging and more. “You name it,” said Richard Kersbergen, professor of sustainable dairy and forage systems at UMaine. “If it doesn’t stick, it’s probably got some PFAS in it, or had PFAS in it.”

Although its impact on human health is not yet fully understood, studies indicate PFAS can increase cholesterol levels, decrease the body’s vaccine response, prompt changes in liver enzymes, and elevate an individual’s risk of kidney or testicular cancer.

“They’re forever chemicals because they don’t break down,” he said. “They have a carbon-fluoride bond that’s incredibly strong. There’s lots of research going on as to how to actually destroy PFAS, and that’s the problem. We don’t have good ways to destroy it.”

Kersbergen has been working with the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to better understand the “root pathway from soil to (feed) to cow, to milk, to child.”

Once the chemical is ingested, it can take a human anywhere from five to 60 years for half of the PFAS in their body to leave, depending on the amount present, Kersbergen said.

Research shows that PFOS, a subgroup of PFAS, has “declined dramatically” in human blood since 2000, when it was first tested for.

Read more, at: https://news.yahoo.com/umaine-scientist-pfas-affects-species-223400180.html

New Buoys & Platforms Along Fairfield Coast Being Used for Water Quality Research

FAIRFIELD, CT — The Fairfield Harbor Management Commission has announced it will collaborate with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in a three-year water quality data collection and research effort in Southport Harbor and Sasco Creek.

The investigation, in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), is aimed at expanding scientific knowledge of water quality issues along the Fairfield shoreline and in several other coastal Connecticut communities including Mystic, Norwalk and Westport.

The research effort will start in May as USGS scientists begin installing equipment to collect water quality data at select locations. This includes a marked buoy platform with scientific instruments at the mouth of Southport Harbor and instruments at the Pequot Yacht Club within the harbor. Data will be collected throughout the year, and scientists will also periodically collect manual water samples at those two locations as well as the mouth of Sasco Creek under the Pequot Avenue bridge.

“USGS scientists will collect water quality samples from three locations along the Fairfield shoreline, providing water resource managers with a detailed understanding as to how, and to what extent, excessive amounts of nutrients affect the coastal bays of Long Island Sound,” said USGS Hydrologic Technician Brittney Izbicki.

Read more, at: https://news.hamlethub.com/fairfield/life/50919-new-buoys-platforms-along-fairfield-coast-being-used-for-water-quality-research

‘Forever chemicals’ linger in West Virginia streams, blood samples

It’s been nearly six years since city officials in Martinsburg, WV, learned that one of the wells supplying drinking water to their community contained harmful levels of per– and polyfluoroalkyl substances, extremely persistent compounds often called “forever chemicals.”

Authorities promptly took the tainted well out of service and only resumed using it in December 2017 after installing a granular activated-carbon treatment system to deal with the contaminants. Since the treatment system went online, PFAS concentrations in Martinsburg’s water have been below the health threshold recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

But the compounds have continued to show up in the area’s groundwater and local streams, and questions remain about health effects from area residents’ lengthy exposures to the toxic chemicals.

A recent report by the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry found that residents of Martinsburg and surrounding Berkeley County who drank public tapwater still had elevated levels of two PFAS compounds in their bodies roughly 3.5 years after the contaminated well had been taken offline.

Read more, at:https://www.bayjournal.com/news/pollution/forever-chemicals-linger-in-west-virginia-streams-blood-samples/article_33281d64-b5e3-11ec-8c33-73cba420c778.html

Water contamination source found at William Beaumont Army Medical Center, officials report

The cause of the contaminated water at the new William Beaumont Army Medical Center in East El Paso appears to have been found and the water system is being fixed, officials announced Tuesday afternoon.

A valve failure in the hospital’s water softener system appears to have put brine, or salty water, into the water system, causing “limited piping corrosion,” which resulted in sediment contaminating and discoloring the water, officials said in a news release.

Meanwhile, the hospital on Monday reopened its emergency department to trauma patients and again allowed elective surgeries by using bottled water and having surgical instruments sanitized at another El Paso hospital, Beaumont officials reported.

Elective surgeries had been canceled and trauma patients diverted to other hospitals since April 7, after it was determined the water system had been contaminated with sediment.

Read more, at: https://www.elpasotimes.com/story/news/2022/04/19/water-contamination-source-found-fort-bliss-army-hospital-william-beaumont-medical-center-el-paso/7373043001/

Popular Florida sea turtle center losing entire medical staff as water quality issues continue: report

Problems continue to plague the popular Loggerhead Marinelife Center in South Florida with reports its entire medical staff will be gone by May.

After water quality issues remain a concern for the rehabilitation center and attraction in Juno Beach, the center once again has no sea turtles on site, according to a report from WPTV.

The center has been a working hospital that takes in all species of sea turtles for more than 30 years.

WPTV reports that all of the veterinary hospital section of the center have either left or given notice. Last week there were only four sea turtles utilizing its 26 rehab pools, but now there are none.

Read more, at: https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/florida/os-ne-loggerhead-marinelife-center-medical-staff-resigning-20220415-e6srufbmzrfythwhddavwaew54-story.html

Delray Beach water inspector says city fired her for disclosing contamination

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — A former Delray Beach employee has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the city, claiming she was harassed and terminated for disclosing alleged contamination of the city’s drinking water.

According to the lawsuit, the city terminated wastewater inspector Christine Ferrigan in January, claiming “reorganization” although her position had been approved and funded.

The lawsuit contends the city terminated Ferrigan following a series of public health-related disclosures she made to her management and other state and city officials about alleged contamination of Delray Beach’s drinking water.

The suit also claims city officials terminated her in part to prevent her from disclosing information about the utility department’s handling of cross connection and drinking water contamination issues to oversight agencies.

Read more, at: https://www.wptv.com/news/local-news/investigations/delray-beach-water-inspector-says-city-fired-her-for-disclosing-contamination

Popular Florida sea turtle center losing entire medical staff as water quality issues continue: report

Problems continue to plague the popular Loggerhead Marinelife Center in South Florida with reports its entire medical staff will be gone by May.

After water quality issues remain a concern for the rehabilitation center and attraction in Juno Beach, the center once again has no sea turtles on site, according to a report from WPTV.

The center has been a working hospital that takes in all species of sea turtles for more than 30 years.

WPTV reports that all of the veterinary hospital section of the center have either left or given notice. Last week there were only four sea turtles utilizing its 26 rehab pools, but now there are none.

“At this time we do not have any sea turtle patients in our hospital,” a notice on the center’s website reads. “We’re incredibly proud that our Hospital team cared for 83 sea turtles (plus 704 hatchlings!) in 2021. We’re eagerly standing by to rescue and respond to the next sea turtles requiring care, and putting the final touches on our stunning new outdoor sea turtle hospital, which will open soon.”

Read More, at: https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/florida/os-ne-loggerhead-marinelife-center-medical-staff-resigning-20220415-e6srufbmzrfythwhddavwaew54-story.html

This startup fights climate change by growing algae in the desert

In the Sahara Desert along the coastline in Morocco, more than 300 miles from the nearest city, a green pond now sits in the middle of the sand. It’s a test site for Brilliant Planet, a startup that plans to fight climate change by growing vast quantities of carbon-capturing algae in the world’s deserts.

“Per unit area, we can fix as much carbon—or more carbon, depending on where we are in the seasonality—as a rainforest,” says Raffael Jovine, cofounder and chief scientist at Brilliant Planet. “The difference is, when a rainforest tree falls down, it returns 97% of the carbon back to the atmosphere, whereas we can sequester all of it.” The production at the test site varies, as the company runs different trials. But when it builds the first commercial-scale plant, covering 1,000 acres, it expects to remove 40,000 tons of CO2 per year, roughly the equivalent emissions of using 92,000 barrels of oil. Scaled up to cover available desert land on coasts, the system could hypothetically remove 2 gigatons of CO2 a year.

The company pumps seawater from the nearby coast into its facility, taking advantage of the fact that the water is filled both with nutrients that algae needs to grow and with CO2; the ocean has absorbed tens of billions of tons of CO2 emissions over the last few decades. As the water flows through a series of containers and ponds, algae grows in the startup’s proprietary system and captures carbon. When the algae is ready to be harvested—a process that takes between 18 and 30 days—it’s filtered out of the water, which is returned to the ocean. (The process also makes the water less acidic, helping solve another problem caused by climate change.) Then the algae is dried and buried under the sand, where the carbon it captures can be permanently stored.

It’s one example of something that climate science says is necessary: Tackling climate change involves not only moving away from fossil fuels and eliminating other emissions, but also removing CO2 from the air. The latest IPCC report says that carbon removal—both through technology and natural solutions like planting trees— is essential and will have to massively grow for the world to have any chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius.

Read more, at: https://www.fastcompany.com/90740513/this-startup-fights-climate-change-by-growing-algae-in-the-desert

Algae bloom alert issued for Orange County lake

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — There’s a health alert in effect for an Orange County lake after the presence of a harmful toxin was detected on April 6.

The Florida Department of Health in Orange County said harmful blue-green algal toxins were found in Lake Mann by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Health officials said blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments, and that a bloom occurs when the rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.

Officials said the blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals.

Article Published on 4/11/22

Stony Brook scientist: Nitrogen loading an ongoing threat to Long Island waters

Stony Brook University scientist Christopher Gobler emphasized again at his annual State of the Bays lecture last Wednesday that excessive nitrogen loading from wastewater is an ongoing threat for Long Island waters. 

“Warming, acidification, hypoxia and harmful algal blooms are the four horsemen of the ocean climate change apocalypse, because they’re all happening together,” he said.

The Suffolk County subwatershed plan, published in 2020, showed nitrogen levels rising in surface and ground waters. Between June and September 2021, documented marine and freshwater harmful algal blooms and dead zones were widespread on Long Island shorelines. 

The rising population on Long Island has correlated with a significant increase in the nitrate levels in the aquifer, according to Mr. Gobler. Epidemiological literature on even low levels of nitrates have been associated with elevated levels of cancer, he said, adding that Suffolk County has higher rates of bladder cancers than anywhere else in the state or country, and higher rates of kidney cancer than average. 

Widespread toxic algal blooms have also impacted water quality and marine ecosystems, including the bay scallop population, he noted. Suffolk County has the most toxic blue-green algal blooms in the state, according to Mr. Gobler, and last year was “pretty bad” for rust tides, with the bloom starting in early August and continuing through October. Last spring, there was also a mahogany tide in many places across the south shore. 

In an October report, Mr. Gobler said conditions causing low oxygen and harmful algae blooms in Long Island waters, including on the East End, have become a “new normal,” with every major bay and estuary that summer suffering from toxic blooms and dead zones in a “dual assault of climate change and excessive nitrogen loading.”

Read More, at: https://shelterislandreporter.timesreview.com/2022/04/13/stony-brook-scientist-nitrogen-loading-an-ongoing-threat-to-long-island-waters/