Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Roadways and Parking Lots Threaten Freshwater Quality in the Northeastern U.S.

06.09.2005


There are 2.6 million miles of paved roads in the United States, and new roads are being constructed daily. When parking lots and driveways are factored in, there is already enough blacktopped surface in the U.S. to cover the entire state of Ohio. Paved roads and parking spaces come in handy for our nation’s drivers, but they also come with a serious unforeseen cost— the degradation of our nation’s freshwater ecosystems.




In a recent Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper, Drs. Sujay S. Kaushal, Peter M. Groffman, and Gene E. Likens of the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, with colleagues, detail how roadways and deicers are compromising the health of northeastern waters, making them inhospitable to wildlife and compromising drinking water supplies. Their insights were made possible by long-term data recorded by the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study, the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the City of Baltimore.

By looking at records of chloride concentration in a range of northeastern waterways— from urban and suburban sources in New York’s Hudson Valley and Baltimore County, Maryland to rural streams in the White Mountains of New Hampshire— the researchers concluded that freshwater salinity has been increasing at an alarming rate over the past 30 years. In the Baltimore study area, there was a strong relationship between impervious surface coverage (i.e. roads and parking lots) and chloride concentration. Road salt was cited as an important source of chloride pollution.


Dr. Kaushal, a Post Doctoral Associate at the Institute of Ecosystem Studies when the research was conducted, comments, "There is a direct connection between the construction of new roadways and parking lots and the quality of our fresh water. In particular, we haven’t paid attention to how rapid changes in human development and deicer use impact the watersheds that supply our region’s drinking water." Adding that, "We are hardening the watershed and feeding it a high sodium diet that is detrimental to the health of aquatic ecosystems."

The changes observed were not subtle. By accumulating in ground water and aquifers, road salt was linked to year-round increases in freshwater salinity. In New York and Maryland, freshwater salinity reached levels equivalent to 25% of the concentration of seawater. In developed areas of Baltimore, chloride concentrations were already high enough to induce mortality in aquatic animals and alter wetland plant composition. Even in rural New Hampshire, where road density is low, a number of streams were as saline as the tidal waters of the Hudson River estuary.

Dr. Groffman, of the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, notes, "It is surprising and significant that the long-term record shows that salinity concentrations are going up, even in places where the amount of salt applied has not increased. Concentrations are high in the summer, not just in the winter when salt is applied to melt snow, suggesting that salt is accumulating in the environment. The salinity increases we observed in rural areas, with minimal road coverage, indicate that the urban/suburban effect on stream chloride is prevalent over large land areas."

If salinity levels continue to rise in the northeastern U.S., Kaushal and colleagues warn that within the next century many freshwater sources will be toxic to aquatic life and unfit for human consumption. Reversing the problem involves reducing the creation of new roads and subsequent use of deicers. Despite being a major aquatic pollutant, road salt is not currently regulated as a freshwater contaminant.

Lori M. Quillen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ecostudies.org

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

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: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>