Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Clean Air Act has led to improved water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed

07.11.2013
Declines in atmospheric nitrogen pollution improved water quality over a 23-year period

A new study shows that the reduction of pollution emissions from power plants in the mid-Atlantic is making an impact on the quality of the water that ends up in the Chesapeake Bay.

The study by scientists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science confirms that as the amount of emissions of nitrogen oxide from coal-fired power plants declined in response to the Clean Air Act, the amount of nitrogen pollution found in the waterways of forested areas in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia fell as well.

"When we set out to reduce nitrogen pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, deposition of nitrogen resulting from air pollution on the watershed was considered uncontrollable," said Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “This study shows that improvements in air quality provided benefits to water quality that we were not counting on.”

Researchers evaluated long-term water quality trends for nine forested mountain watersheds located along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from Pennsylvania to southern Virginia over a 23-year period (1986 to 2009). The sampling began slightly before the Clean Air Act of 1990 imposed controls on power plant emissions to reduce nitrogen oxide pollution through its Acid Rain Program. According to the EPA, total human-caused nitrogen oxide emissions declined 32% from 1997 to 2005 in 20 eastern U.S. states that participated in the program.

Intended to reduce the emissions (sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide) that caused acid rain, the program had the unintended consequence of reducing the amount of nitrogen oxide particles landing on forests in the sample area and ultimately improving water quality in the watershed.

“It worked for something nobody anticipated,” said lead author Keith Eshleman, a professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Appalachian Laboratory. “The original idea was to reduce nitrogen oxide concentrations in the atmosphere because that would reduce acidity of precipitation and decrease ozone in the atmosphere. The other result was that water quality has improved, a side benefit that was unanticipated.”

Air pollution that falls on the land (known atmospheric deposition) is one of the biggest sources of pollution to the forested area that impacts the Chesapeake Bay--sixty percent of the watershed. Nitrogen accumulation has significant consequences for air quality, human health, and the health of aquatic ecosystems. When excess nitrogen enters the streams and waterways, it can cause algae blooms that significantly impact water quality and marine life.

“In our most pristine and most heavily forested basins, nitrogen deposition is a primary driver of pollution,” said Eshleman. “Where we are located in the Mid Atlantic, we’ve historically had some of the highest rates of deposition, and received some of the greatest reductions owing to the Clean Air Act.”

The study, “Surface water quality is improving due to declining atmosphere N deposition” is published in the November 5 issue of Environment Science and Technology by Keith Eshleman, Robert Sabo and Kathleen Kline of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

The Appalachian Laboratory is located in the mountains of western Maryland, the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Since 1962, the Frostburg-based institution has actively studied the effects of land-use change on the freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems of the region, how they function in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and how human activity may influence their health and sustainability on local, regional and global scales. The scientific results help to unravel the consequences of environmental change, manage natural resources, restore ecosystems, and foster ecological literacy.

Amy Pelsinsky | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umces.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>