Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UI engineers conduct residential soils study, one of few such U.S. studies ever done

30.11.2011
University of Iowa engineers have published their findings from a study of residential soils in the city of Cedar Rapids, making it one of only a few such U.S. urban soil studies ever conducted.

The authors of the study, published in the November online edition of the journal Environmental Pollution, collected soils in the residential areas of downtown Cedar Rapids and analyzed them for industrial pollutants known as PCBs (polychlorinated biphyenyls) and chlordanes. Measured values for both chemical groups were found to be similar to other urban/industrial sites around the world. Also, measured values were found to be of the same order of magnitude as the provisional threshold recommended by the U.S. EPA to perform soil remediation.

Project principal investigator Keri Hornbuckle, UI professor of civil and environmental engineering and researcher at IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering, says that soil often stores residual amounts of persistent organic pollutants such as PCBs and chlordanes and -- because children and others can be be exposed on a regular basis -- contaminated soil may be a source of concern.

Hornbuckle notes that her study is somewhat unique because the few existing reports of chlordanes or PCBs in U.S. soil samples concern remote, unpopulated areas. In researching similar studies, she found only one study reporting chlordanes and two reporting PCBs for U.S. urban-residential soil concentrations. She adds that her study was aided by the fact that she grew up in Cedar Rapids and that several former Cedar Rapids teachers -- who were very familiar with the city -- assisted the team while sampling was being conducted.

During the historic floods of 2008, flooding of the Cedar River exceeded the historical record of flood discharge in Cedar Rapids and affected a large portion of residential, commercial, and industrial land in the city, including Cedar Lake. Having an average depth of less than four feet, Cedar Lake was long used as a cooling lake for the Sixth Street Generating Station and is contaminated with chlordanes and PCBs. It remains unknown whether the 2008 flooding caused any redistribution of those pollutants in the city, says Hornbuckle.

The UI study technique involved collecting 66 soil samples near Cedar Rapids streets on August 25, 2008 -- about 70 days after the flood. About 94 percent of the sampling sites were located inside the estimated flood area, and researchers concentrated on sampling sites south of Cedar Lake and west of the Cedar River. The total sampling area covered almost 4 square miles. Each sample involved collecting approximately 2 pounds of soil from a 5-inch-deep site using a trowel. The soil samples were placed in labeled, plastic Ziplock freezer bags and brought to the UI, where they were refrigerated prior to being analyzed -- using gas chromatography, mass spectrometry for chlordanes, and tandem mass spectrometry for PCBs.

Hornbuckle says that residents of Cedar Rapids and other cities should know that these chemicals are widely present in urban soils. She adds that we don't know the source of the PCBs found in Cedar Rapids soils, but that chlordane is probably present because homeowners used the insecticide to kill termites and that the original contamination probably occurred more than 30 years ago.

"Both these chemicals are now banned from production and sale, but are still in our environment because they are nearly nonbiodegradable," she says. "It is my opinion that we should not use chemicals that are so persistent in any household activity, but it is difficult for the average homeowner to know how to judge this. This data is not, but should be, provided on the containers of all the products we purchase."

Manufactured from about 1930 until being banned in the 1970s due to their toxicity and persistence in the environment, PCBs were widely used as coolants, in electrical transformers and in a wide variety of products ranging from waterproofing compounds to paints and pesticides. Chlordanes were used to control termites in buildings and as insecticides on lawns and gardens, as well as on corn and other crops, before the EPA banned their use in 1988.

The project was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and as part of the Iowa Superfund Basic Research Program, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The paper, titled "Spatial distribution of Chlordanes and PCB congeners in soil in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA," is scheduled for publication in the February 2012 print edition of the journal.

Hornbuckle's co-authors are Andres Martinez, Nicholas R. Erdman, Zachary L. Rodenburg, and Paul M. Eastling, all of the UI Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and IIHR -- Hydroscience and Engineering. Of special note, Erdman and Rodenburg performed all chemical analysis required for the study while enrolled as UI undergraduate chemical and biochemical engineering students, and Eastling reported a draft of the study in his master's degree thesis in environmental engineering.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Keri Hornbuckle, principal investigator, 319-331-3053, keri-hornbuckle@uiowa.edu; Gary Galluzzo, writer, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu

Jennifer Brown | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uiowa.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>