Microbial processes ultimately determine whether arsenic builds to dangerous levels in groundwater, say researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Remediation may be as simple as stimulating certain microbes to grow.
Arsenic contamination is a serious threat to human health. In the Ganges Delta of Bangladesh, for example, chronic exposure to arsenic has been linked to serious medical conditions, including hypertension, cardiovascular disease and a variety of cancers. "The threat extends to Central Illinois, where there are very high levels of arsenic contamination in a number of wells," said Craig Bethke, a professor of geology at Illinois and corresponding author of a paper to appear in the November issue of the journal Geology. "We also discovered important links between the amount of organic material dissolved in the groundwater and the concentrations of sulfate and arsenic."
The researchers analyzed water from 21 wells at various depths in the Mahomet aquifer, a regional water supply for Central Illinois. "The Mahomet aquifer was produced by a glacier, which pulverized and homogenized the sediments," Bethke said. "As a result, arsenic sources that leach into the groundwater are pretty uniformly distributed." Surprisingly, however, arsenic concentration varied strongly from well to well, Bethke said. "Concentrations may reach hundreds of micrograms per liter in one well – which is enough to make people very sick – but fall below detection limits in a nearby well."
James E. Kloeppel | EurekAlert!
Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
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Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
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19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy