Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Dark side of spring? Pollution in our melting snow

Date:
March 28, 2011
Source:
University of Toronto
Summary:
With birds chirping and temperatures warming, spring is finally in the air. But for environmental chemist Torsten Meyer, springtime has a dark side.

With birds chirping and temperatures warming , spring is finally in the air. But for University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) environmental chemist Torsten Meyer, springtime has a dark side.

"During the winter months, contaminants accumulate in the snow," says Meyer, an expert on snow-bound organic contaminants and a post-doctoral fellow at UTSC. "When the snow melts, these chemicals are released into the environment at high concentrations."

In a specially designed, temperature-controlled laboratory at UTSC -- which includes a homemade snow-gun and a chemical pump -- Meyer creates large baths of fresh snow already tainted with organic contaminants . This one-of-a-kind set-up enables the researcher to slowly melt his "dirty" snow, collect the melt-water and track which chemicals emerge from the snowpack and when. Meyer's research reveals a worrying surprise. "One of the main findings is that there is a peak contaminant flush at the very beginning of the melt," he says. With the advent of spring, according to Meyer, comes a deluge of pollution.

By the time snow has turned black with muck and grime, many harmful chemicals -- including those from pesticides, car exhaust, telecommunications wiring insulation, water repellent clothing, paints or coatings -- may have already seeped out of the snow and into the surrounding ground water or surface water.

Although Meyer views his work as fundamental research, his findings have obvious real-world implications, such as how municipalities choose their snow dump sites. According to Meyer, cities and towns should be very careful to select well-contained sites to protect against that early flush of pollutants.

Meyer's research is unique because previous studies on snowmelt contaminants have all used either natural snow or very low volumes of artificially produced snow. He is also one of only a handful of researchers in the world who study snow and organic contaminants.

"Getting quantitative information on the flush of contaminants from a melting snowpack is particularly important," says Professor Frank Wania, head of Meyer's research cluster at UTSC. "The melt often coincides with time periods when many aquatic organisms are at a vulnerable stage of their life cycle."


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Toronto. "Dark side of spring? Pollution in our melting snow." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110328162031.htm>.
University of Toronto. (2011, March 28). Dark side of spring? Pollution in our melting snow. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110328162031.htm
University of Toronto. "Dark side of spring? Pollution in our melting snow." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110328162031.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) Researchers at UC Berkeley are testing a prototype of an earthquake early warning system that California is pursuing years after places like Mexico and Japan already have them up and running. (August 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brazil Tries Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue

Brazil Tries Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue

AFP (Aug. 25, 2014) A factory in the industrial state of Sao Paulo produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Prime Minister at Japan Landslide Site

Raw: Prime Minister at Japan Landslide Site

AP (Aug. 25, 2014) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Hiroshima on Monday as rescuers expanded their search for dozens still missing from landslides around the western Japanese city that killed at least 50 people. (Aug. 25) 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