Is the Ocean Floor Dissolving?

Since oceans cover roughly two thirds of the Earth, and since oceans can demonstrate signs of ecosystem health and climate change, the U.S. EPA has watched the ocean for changes in their physical property for many years. From sea level height to ocean temperature to coastal flooding occurrences to surface temperature, the EPA has closely monitored changes in these properties as an indicator of climate change.

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Tuesday Trivia – December 11, 2018

Happy Tuesday! The final question for 2018 focuses on the EPA 500 Series methods that have been developed to quantify organic contaminants in drinking water. For those unfamiliar, EPA Method 525.2 outlines the extraction and quantification of organic compounds in drinking water. The EPA eventually revised the method and released Method 525.3. The updated revision incorporates a number of changes to improve the extraction and quantification of drinking water contaminants. Continue reading Tuesday Trivia – December 11, 2018

Be the Solution to Soil Pollution

“The Earth is what we all have in common.”

                   -Wendell Berry

If you are like me, you spent yesterday honoring World Soil Day with a variety of research and community activities to acknowledge the importance of this valuable resource. If you live in a colder climate area and the ground is starting to freeze, perhaps your activities were more indoor-focused. That’s OK too.

When you give it some thought, soil is quite an impressive material. In its most simplistic definition, soil is just the Earth’s outer most layer. However, if you dig a little deeper (no pun intended!), soil is the layer of Earth that we depend on in every aspect of our lives.

Soil is what we use to grow our trees and plants which provide us with food to eat and clean air to breathe. It provides us with a stable surface to build our homes and roads. It also stores water and nutrients, provides a nutritious and sustainable environment for billions of organisms, and has the ability to filter toxic contaminants from our surrounding environment. In other words, soil is one of our most precious resources.

“The biggest threat to soil is ignorance and indifference.”

Unfortunately, soil has a finite capacity for retaining contaminants, and decades of industrial pollution, farming activities and improper urban waste disposal have saturated and exceeded the filtering ability of this resource in many parts of the world.  Compounding this issue is the fact that soil pollution is a hidden danger.  People cannot see the direct impact of their contributions, causing many of them to become oblivious to the magnitude and prevalence of this problem.

As the Earth’s population continues to grow – projections indicate our population numbers will reach almost 10 billion by 2050 – people need to be more diligent than ever in protecting our life-sustaining resources. We keep this thought at the forefront of the solutions we provide, so World Soil Day is a great reminder and opportunity for us to continue developing solutions to monitor and protect our soil for generations to come. After all, healthy (contaminant-free) soil could make the difference between a healthy, thriving ecosystem and a starving, barren wasteland.

Let us know how you celebrated World Soil Day in the comments below!

Tuesday Trivia – November 27, 2018

Happy Tuesday! This week’s question will address perfluorinated compounds in drinking water. If you want to brush up on this topic, there’s a fantastic webinar you can stream, which presents challenges in extracting PFC compounds in drinking and wastewaters. If you feel that you’re a PFC expert, read on and test your knowledge!

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Tuesday Trivia – Answer for November 13, 2018

Just a reminder of last week’s post:

The United States has been using pesticides for decades to protect crops and livestock from disease, mold, insect damage and many other types of pesky organisms. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), roughly 540 million pounds of pesticides were used in 1964. How many pounds of pesticides were being used across the nation by 1993?

Answer: 1.1 billion

Technically, the term “pesticide” is a somewhat generic term to describe a substance that controls pests. Based on that definition, pesticides include herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and many more chemical solutions. Given the increase in the U.S. population between 1964 and 1993, and the growth in the number of viruses, fungi, bacteria and other organisms that could endanger the health of our crops and livestock, it’s not surprising that our use of pesticides rose significantly over that period of time.

Join us next week to Expand Your Horizon!

Extracting Perfluorinated Compounds from Drinking Water – Why is it so Challenging?

For the past few years, news reporters have used words like “developing” and “emerging” and “crisis” to describe perfluorinated compounds. When you see adjectives like this, you can’t help but think “how did we not know about these PFC things before now?”

The truth is, these compounds have been produced for decades – some, for over half a century – and their chemical and physical properties are well-known. The strength of the carbon-fluorine bond in these compounds makes them heat-, water- and stain-resistant. Continue reading Extracting Perfluorinated Compounds from Drinking Water – Why is it so Challenging?

Tuesday Trivia Answer – for October 30, 2018

Just a reminder of last week’s post:

  1. Carving pumpkins is part of many modern Halloween traditions; however, carvings weren’t originally performed with pumpkins. Which vegetables were originally used for carving?
  2. Halloween parties have their origins with the American settlers who used to gather to celebrate the annual _______(fill in the blank)________
  3. The earliest costumes were worn to protect people against ____(fill in the blank)_____
  4. What is the most popular Halloween candy?

a.  Hershey’s candy bars
b.  Skittles
c.  Reese’s peanut butter cups
d.  Snickers

Answers:

  1. Turnips and potatoes
  2. Harvest
  3. Evil Spirits
  4. Skittles

Share your early Halloween memories in the comments below and join us next week to Expand Your Horizon!

Paraquat and Diquat Use in Pesticides

If you read one of my earlier posts on pesticide contamination in drinking water,  you may have started to make a mental list of all the compounds you’ve heard or talked about in reference to their use in pesticides. If so, two of those compounds were likely paraquat and diquat.

These compounds are complex dipyridyls but with chemical names like 1,1′-dimethyl-4,4′- bipyridilium dichloride salt and 1,1′-ethylene-2,2′-bipyridilium dibromide salt, I assume you’re like me and refer to them as paraquat and diquat, respectively. Dipyridyls are effective herbicides which is why they are so commonly used to eradicate unruly weeds. Unfortunately, many herbicide products are non-selective and will kill a variety of plants, flowers and grasses along with those pesky weeds.

Continue reading Paraquat and Diquat Use in Pesticides