"We continue to learn more about how past agricultural practices are affecting our current environment," says Carl Renshaw, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth. "Unlike some of the pesticides used today, metals like arsenic and lead in old pesticides do not degrade over time. So the question becomes, where do they end up? As we learn more about what happens to these metals since they were applied, we can make better decisions about how to use our land."
Renshaw and his colleagues studied two New Hampshire apple orchards where the pesticide lead arsenate was once used, and they compared the data to a nearby uncontaminated field. Their research was published in the January-February issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality.
The researchers confirmed earlier findings that, in the former orchards, most of the arsenic and lead remains in the top ten inches of soil. The new study goes further and shows that these toxic metals do not remain in their original mineral form. Instead, they are now part of the fine silt and organic matter in the soil, which is most susceptible to erosion.
"We learned that disturbing this land, for example tilling and replanting, mobilizes the arsenic and lead," says Renshaw. "The remobilized metals were found in sediments in a stream channel that drains the tilled orchard."
Renshaw explains that it’s unclear whether the metals in the sediment are taken up by plants and animals in the stream. The researchers tested the macroinvertebrate residents (midge flies and dragonflies) at the outlet of the contaminated stream, and found that, as of yet, there is no disparity in the levels of arsenic or lead.
"Historic farmlands in New Hampshire and elsewhere are increasingly being developed," says Renshaw. "While the arsenic and lead in the soils of old orchards is essentially immobile as long as the land is not disturbed, our work suggests that the development of these lands can inadvertently mobilize these metals toward bodies of water. Communities in these areas may want to ensure additional precautions are taken to control erosion when old orchard lands are disturbed in order to reduce the potential for contamination of nearby surface waters."
Sue Knapp | EurekAlert!
Six-legged livestock -- sustainable food production
11.05.2017 | Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen
Elephant Herpes: Super-Shedders Endanger Young Animals
04.05.2017 | Universität Zürich
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
17.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.05.2017 | Life Sciences
23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering