Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers tracking sources of arsenic contamination in water

02.11.2004


Virginia Tech researchers from geosciences and biology are looking at where arsenic occurs in water, how it is getting there, and how to prevent it. They will present their findings at the 116th national meeting of the Geological Society of America in Denver Nov. 7-10.



Since health data have demonstrated that arsenic is a carcinogen, the U.S. standard for arsenic in drinking water has been lowered from 50 to 10 parts per billion, which is the same as the European Union standard, said Madeline Schreiber, assistant professor of geosciences. She and associate professor of biology Maurice Valett are lead investigators on a National Science Foundation-funded project that began in 2002 on "Transport, transformation, and retention of arsenic in a headwater stream: hyrdrologic, biological, and geochemical controls."

Research is being conducted at a site near the Virginia Tech campus, where arsenopyrite, an arsenic-bearing sulfide, was mined from 1903 to 1919. "Arsenic was used in pesticide. The extraction process involved heating the ore so that the arsenic would oxidize as a white powder," Schreiber said.


The researchers have discovered that a stream adjacent to the site is receiving arsenic from groundwater that has flowed through the mine, but that some of the arsenic is being retained in the streambed. Discovering the pathways from the mine to the stream and the conditions of discharge from groundwater into the stream are first steps to possible remediation and control, Schreiber said.

"The change that occurs as anaerobic (oxygen-free) groundwater discharges to aerobic surface water impacts the transport of arsenic. Arsenic is more mobile under anaerobic conditions, while under aerobic conditions, it is bound to iron minerals," she said "So we are asking, "What happens to arsenic as it is transported from groundwater to surface water? Is it retained at the interface between the two zones?

The goal is to figure out how to prevent arsenic from getting into drinking water sources, she said. "We are trying to determine the biogeochemical controls on arsenic release. In this case, release was accelerated through human activity (mining). But we are also looking at how the mineral weathers; then, once it is in the water, how it interacts with the sediment and with bacteria."

Since much of the arsenic contamination is natural, rather than as a result of industry, "and a little bit goes a long way, the taxpayers will have to pay for prevention. But prevention is less expensive than remediation," she said.

The paper, "Evaluating arsenic transport within anthropogenic aquifers in mined watersheds," co-authored by Schreiber, biology associate professor Maurice Valett, biology student Brendan V. Brown of Savannah, Ga., and Craig Altare of the earth and environmental sciences department at New Mexico Tech, will be presented at 4:55 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, in room 205 of the Colorado Convention Center.

Three students are working on the research project now. Two students have graduated, so two undergraduates are being added, thanks to a supplement NSF grant to support undergraduate researchers (REU).

Susan Trulove | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.vt.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle
22.06.2018 | Technical University of Denmark

nachricht Polar ice may be softer than we thought
22.06.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View

22.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>