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!

OH NO! NOT PEANUT BUTTER TOO!

As a child, peanut butter was a staple in our household. It was an easy meal for us “latchkey kids” who would come home from school to an empty house, starving. I would grab the old Wonder Bread and whip together a thick, 2-inch peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich, head to the living room to watch the afternoon programs that my parents had prohibited like Dark Shadows.

Oh, the good old days!

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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!

Surefire Ways to Avoid Fat Gain During the Holidays

It’s that time of year again – avoiding the Thanksgiving “Fatberg”

Thanksgiving is that special time of year that we gather together with family and friends to give thanks and experience traditions that are carried on through generations. Our Thanksgiving meal consists of: roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and homemade cranberry sauce. We also serve the not-so-customary stuffed artichokes – a family favorite, passed down from my Italian grandparents. Continue reading Surefire Ways to Avoid Fat Gain During the Holidays

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?

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.

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Changes to EPA Method 625 – How do They Affect You?

With the prevalence of contaminants in wastewater today, it is important to have a method for properly extracting and quantifying those compounds, to allow our wastewater treatment plants to remove them during the treatment process, when and where they need to.

The U.S. EPA has written a number of methods for determining contaminants in wastewater – compounds from organophosphorus pesticides (Method 614.1) to organochlorine pesticides (Method 608.3) to chlorinated hydrocarbons (Method 612) have EPA-published methods for guidance. The method I want to focus on here is that for determining bases, neutrals and acids (Method 625.1) and I’m highlighting it because there’s been a change in how this method can be executed, which could have a significant impact on your laboratory. Curious about what I’m alluding to? Read on!

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Tuesday Trivia Answer – August 28, 2018

Just to recap last week’s Tuesday Trivia post: Due to rising levels of ______ (fill in the blank) ________, some species of fish are slowly losing their ability to smell.

Answer: Carbon dioxide (CO2)

As the levels of carbon dioxide rise in a body of water, carbon dioxide converts to carbonic acid which increases the acidity of the water. It turns out, acidic conditions reduce the sensitivity of the olfactory sensors in a fish (i.e. the nerves responsible for being able to smell).

As we’ve demonstrated with posts and trivia questions in the past, protecting, testing and treating our fresh water sources is important to the health of everyone. Read through this helpful infographic for a quick review of the potential contaminants that could find their way into our water sources.

Join us next week to Expand Your Horizon!

Fats, Oils and Grease, Oh My!

If you are unfamiliar with terms like “fatberg” and “FOG,” you might not realize the significance and environmental ramifications of this phenomenon. Your perspective will change if you look through recent news articles where fatbergs have blocked and damaged sewer systems in major cities.

Photo credit: Thames Water

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