Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Sheds Light On Mess In Polluted Streams

Date:
September 27, 2002
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Downstream from mining sites, a suffocating gel forms in the water of creeks and rivers. A new study by an international team of researchers details the processes that make that gel and should advance our understanding of the damaging environmental effects of mine drainage and acid rain.

Downstream from mining sites, a suffocating gel forms in the water of creeks and rivers. A new study by an international team of researchers details the processes that make that gel and should advance our understanding of the damaging environmental effects of mine drainage and acid rain.

"This new nanoscale level of understanding of trace metal pollution of streams opens new doors for addressing the problem of contaminated waters in affected areas," says Sonia Esperanca, program director in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) division of earth sciences, which funded the research.

According to the team's report in this Friday's issue (Sept. 27) of the journal Science, the gel results when runoff made acidic by mining or acid rain collects aluminum from local soils and then mixes with stream water that is less acidic. In subsequent chemical reactions, aluminum molecules link together to form polymer gel.

Scientists call the gel "floc" and say its influence is widespread: Mining disrupts about 240,000 square kilometers of the Earth's surface (about 93,000 square miles, an area roughly the size of Oregon).

The gelatinous floc is bad enough by itself; it gums up the gills of fish and suffocates them, and is equally deadly to other aquatic animals and plants. But it also possesses another dangerous quality: It binds to toxic metals, including mercury, lead and cadmium, and transports them far downstream.

"This combination of floc and metals pollutes streams," said William Casey, a University of California at Davis geochemist and an author of the new report. "Bad things adsorb into this gel and then it travels forever."

Knowing how floc forms at the molecular level may suggest some practical solutions, Casey said. One such solution might be to stop aluminum from migrating into streams.

"Now we know how these pollutants enter the watershed, how fast they move and perhaps how to prevent the reactions by cutting off the ingredients. Detailing the molecular pathways helps us better understand the pollutants' source and their fate," Casey said.

The paper, "The origin of aluminum flocs in polluted streams," was written by Casey; Gerhard Furrer of the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology in Switzerland; Brian Phillips of State University of New York at Stony Brook; Kai-Uwe Ulrich of Technical University of Dresden, Germany; and Rosemarie Pothig of Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Berlin.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Study Sheds Light On Mess In Polluted Streams." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 September 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/09/020927065410.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2002, September 27). Study Sheds Light On Mess In Polluted Streams. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/09/020927065410.htm
National Science Foundation. "Study Sheds Light On Mess In Polluted Streams." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/09/020927065410.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

AP (July 21, 2014) New Orleans is the first U.S. city to participate in a large-scale recycling effort for cigarette butts. The city is rolling out dozens of containers for smokers to use when they discard their butts. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

AFP (July 19, 2014) A spectaCular lightning storm struck the UK overnight Friday. Images of lightning strikes over the Shard and Tower Bridge in central London. Duration: 00:23 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins