Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UI research: PCBs found in soon-to-be-dredged Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal

13.01.2010
University of Iowa researchers have confirmed that sediments of the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal (IHSC) in East Chicago, Ind., are contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

The IHSC, part of the Calumet River tributary of Lake Michigan, will begin being dredged in the next few years to maintain the proper depth for ship traffic, with uncertain environmental impacts in regard to PCBs. Scientists aren't sure whether dredging will help the situation by removing the potentially harmful compounds or hurt it by stirring them up.

Employing tandem mass spectrometry, an analytical technique to determine the elemental composition of a sample or molecule, the UI researchers found high levels of PCBs. The origin of the PCBs is unknown, but they strongly resemble Aroclor 1248, a potentially toxic compound that may pose direct health hazards to humans. This mixture was used in hydraulic fluids, vacuum pumps, plasticizers and adhesives, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"The presence of PCBs is important because dredging will impact the fate and transport of chemicals," said Keri Hornbuckle, professor of civil and environmental engineering in the UI College of Engineering and corresponding author of the study, published in the journal Environment International.

"It is quite possible that dredging will provide a major improvement in the situation. It may remove PCBs that are available to fish and other wildlife, and reduce the release of PCBs from the sediments," she said. "On the other hand, dredging might increase the availability and mobility of PCBs. Now that we know PCBs are present, these questions are pertinent."

Hornbuckle collaborated on the research with first author Andres Martinez, a graduate student in civil and environmental engineering; Karin Norstrom, a postdoctoral student in civil and environmental engineering; and Kai Wang, an assistant professor of biostatistics in the college of public health.

The IHSC is an active canal system that continues to support large vessels. But to remain viable for industrial shipping, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District, began a long-term dredging project to restore adequate navigational depth.

Due to years of heavy industrial operation, the IHSC has been contaminated with PCBs. Prior to this study, there was little published data of the spatial extent and concentration magnitude of PCBs in the sediment in IHSC. The Army Corps of Engineers reported that PCBs have existed in IHSC sediment since 1977, but has not published a full report.

The PCB levels found here are comparable to other PCB-contaminated sites in the U.S., most established by law as Superfund Sites, which requires the removal of contaminants from environmental media such as soil, groundwater and sediment. The IHSC is not a Superfund Site.

Funding for the research project was provided by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS/NIH) Iowa Superfund Basic Research Program.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Graduate College Office of External Relations, 205 Gilmore Hall, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: John Riehl, 319-335-3260, john-riehl@uiowa.edu

John Riehl | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uiowa.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | 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: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

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...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

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...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>