Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The Proof Is In The Tree Bark

Date:
November 30, 2007
Source:
Indiana University
Summary:
A study found the chlorinated flame retardant Dechlorane Plus in the bark of trees across the northeastern US, with by far the highest concentrations measured near the Niagara Falls, N.Y., factory where this chemical is produced.

Xinghua Qui collects a tree bark sample near Bloomington.
Credit: Image courtesy of Indiana University

A study by Indiana University researchers found the chlorinated flame retardant Dechlorane Plus in the bark of trees across the northeastern United States, with by far the highest concentrations measured near the Niagara Falls, N.Y., factory where this chemical is produced.

The study, by Xinghua Qui and Ronald A. Hites of the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs, was published by the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Hites said the study demonstrates that tree bark can be used as nature's own passive sampling device for detecting the presence and relative concentrations of chemicals in the air. Rough, porous and high in lipids, tree bark soaks up airborne gases and particles, then keeps them protected from the elements.

"It's really a very convenient technique," Hites said. The sampling doesn't hurt the tree, and "you get an integrated measurement of what the tree has been exposed to over the last few years."

The study, "Dechlorane Plus and Other Flame Retardants in Tree Bark from the Northeastern United States," provides the first data on the prevalence of the chemical in the atmosphere outside of the Great Lakes area. It identifies the epicenter of DP concentrations as being near the factory where the chemical is produced by OxyChem (Occidental Petroleum Corp.). Concentrations in tree bark within a few miles of the factory were several thousand times higher than those found in bark at more distant sampling sites, including Indiana, Virginia and Maryland.

Qui and Hites also used tree bark to sample for brominated flame retardants at northeastern U.S. locations. They found them, but at much lower levels than a previous study by Hites and Lingyan Zhu -- published in 2006 by ES&T -- that found the epicenter of brominated flame retardant concentrations to be near a factory in southern Arkansas that makes these chemicals.

The study also looked for flame retardants in bark samples from Europe and Asia. Bark from China and Korea contained Dechlorane Plus at about 10 times the lowest levels found in the northeastern U.S., suggesting there are Asian sources of this chemical, and they aren't simply reaching Asia through the atmosphere.

Dechlorane Plus has been used for more than 40 years as a flame retardant in electrical cables and wiring, and other products, but little data is available on its toxicity, according to an Environmental Science & Technology article. One of more than 175 types of flame retardants, it was developed as a substitute for the banned, highly chlorinated flame retardant Dechlorane (also known as the insecticide Mirex).

"However, the substitute might not always be as safe as hoped," Qui and Hites write. They point out that Dechlorane Plus is present in air, sediment, fishes and herring gull eggs from in the Great Lakes region, suggesting Dechlorane Plus "might be an environmental problem, especially in the lower Great Lakes region."

Hites said Dechlorane Plus has been added to the list of chemicals sampled on an ongoing basis by the Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network. Hites heads the U.S. side of the network, a U.S.-Canadian partnership that monitors airborne chemicals at five locations in the Great Lakes region. "The question in the medium term is, are the concentrations of this chemical going up or down -- and if so, how fast?" Hites said.

Support for the Dechlorane Plus study came from the Great Lakes National Program Office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Indiana University. "The Proof Is In The Tree Bark." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071126162529.htm>.
Indiana University. (2007, November 30). The Proof Is In The Tree Bark. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071126162529.htm
Indiana University. "The Proof Is In The Tree Bark." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071126162529.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
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