MIT researchers have shown that a common pollutant strongly impacts the behavior of arsenic and possibly other toxic metals in some lakes, adding to scientists understanding of how such elements move through the water.
"The work shows that nitrate pollution, which arises from sources such as automobile exhaust, wastewater disposal and fertilizers, is more important in lake dynamics than had been thought," said Harry Hemond, the Leonhard Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and an author of a paper on the work that appeared in the June 28 issue of Science. "This is a linkage we need to understand if we want to manage water quality."
In an interesting twist, said Hemond, the nitrate pollution, which is also associated with noxious impacts such as excessive algal growth, was found to have a mitigating effect. It reacts with naturally occurring iron to create iron oxides that in turn adsorb arsenic. "The result is a suppression of seasonal arsenic release into the water," said Hemond, who is director of MITs Parsons Laboratory.
Elizabeth Thomson | EurekAlert!
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