Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Study shows new potential indirect effects of humans on water quality
by Staff Writers
Minneapolis MN (SPX) Oct 16, 2015

Researchers collected samples and took chemical measurements of the sediment from San Francisco Bay to try to find the source of contaminants. Image courtesy University of Minnesota, College of Science and Engineering. For a larger version of this image please go here.

A study published this week shows that a newly studied class of water contaminants that is known to be toxic and hormone disrupting to marine animals is present likely due in part to indirect effects of human activity. The contaminants are more prevalent in populated areas in the San Francisco Bay, suggesting that human impacts on nutrient input or other changes in water quality may enhance natural production.

The findings by an international team of researchers led by the University of Minnesota are published in PLOS ONE, a multidisciplinary peer-reviewed scientific journal. Collaborators on the project include the San Francisco Estuary Institute, Science Museum of Minnesota's St. Croix Watershed Research Station, ETH Zurich, and Pace Analytical.

The contaminants studied are hydroxylated polybrominated diphenyl ethers (OH-BDEs) and are found around the world from the U.S. to Sweden to China. Recent evidence shows that the production of OH-BDEs occurs naturally from marine bacteria and algae. Levels of these chemicals have been increasing over time and have been detected in Baltic salmon, polar bears, bald eagles and human plasma. Previous studies have shown disruption of thyroid function and neurological development due to OH-BDEs.

"Even though OH-BDEs are produced naturally, it shows that natural does not equal safe," said lead researcher William Arnold, a professor in the University of Minnesota Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo- Engineering. "We need to find out why they are increasing."

The researchers looked at whether there might be a tie to flame retardants used extensively since the 1970s called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Manufacturing facilities, sewage/wastewater, and precipitation are all known sources of PBDE pollution.

Researchers also analyzed the popular antibacterial agent triclosan, which is chemically similar to OH-TriBDE. Because the onset of production of triclosan and PBDEs followed a similar timeline, the researchers hypothesized that the study would indicate common human-related pollution as the cause of OH-BDEs.

From 2012-14, the researchers analyzed surface sediment and sediment cores in the San Francisco Bay, Point Reyes National Seashore and Minnesota lakes to determine a possible source for the increasing OH-BDEs.

They found higher concentrations in San Francisco Bay compared to Point Reyes National Seashore, a marine system with limited human impact. They found no OH-BDEs in the freshwater lakes of Minnesota.

The findings suggest that higher nutrients and water temperatures in the urban area of San Francisco Bay may influence microbial activity and increase OH-BDE levels. Small amounts of OH-BDEs were detected in the less populated Point Reyes National Seashore area, which accounted for a normal level of natural production.

"We were surprised to find no OH-BDEs in the freshwater of Minnesota because flame retardants are used in Minnesota. This showed us that this is likely not the cause of OH-BDEs," Arnold said. "But that's not the end of the story. There were still more OH-BDEs in the populated areas of San Francisco Bay, which highlights the complicated nature of human activity and how it affects our aquatic systems."

In addition to Arnold, researchers who were part of the team include Jill Kerrigan and Matthew Grandbois, University of Minnesota; Donald Yee, San Francisco Estuary Institute; Daniel Engstrom, Science Museum of Minnesota St. Croix Watershed Research Station; Charles Sueper, Pace Analytical Services, Inc.; Kristopher McNeill and Paul Erickson ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

To read more about the study entitled "Quantification of Hydroxylated Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (OH-BDEs), Triclosan, and Related Compounds in Freshwater and Coastal Systems."

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
University of Minnesota
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
In dryland Africa limiting wildlife water access can reduce water quality
Blacksburg VA (SPX) Oct 15, 2015
Water-dependent wildlife populations in sensitive African dryland regions need continued access to limited surface water resources - even as human development increases in these areas - because restricting access and concentrating wildlife populations along riparian regions can impact water quality and, potentially, human health, according to Virginia Tech research published this week in the jou ... read more

Fuel crisis halts aid supplies to quake-hit Nepalis

Slovenia to deploy army for migrant 'logistics support'

Rise and fall of agrarian states influenced by climate volatility

China Communist Party expels safety chief after Tianjin blasts

Hot stuff: Magnetic domain walls

Colombia receives Northrop Grumman AN/TPS-78 radar

Patterning oxide nanopillars at the atomic scale by phase transformation

Methodology could lead to more sustainable manufacturing systems

Ocean protection gaining momentum, but still lags progress made on land

Study shows new potential indirect effects of humans on water quality

Tracking Agricultural Water Use on a Smartphone

New study questions long-held theories of climate variability in the North Atlantic

2015 Antarctic maximum sea ice extent breaks streak of record highs

Shift in weaning age supports hunting-induced extinction of Siberian woolly mammoths

Study sees powerful winds carving away Antarctic snow

Could 'The Day After Tomorrow' happen?

Syria's Arctic seed vault relocated to Morocco, Lebanon

Researchers learn how to keep pathogens, pests from traveling with grain

Trade in invasive plants is blossoming

Colorful caterpillar chemists

Typhoon kills at least 16 in Philippines, strands thousands

Flooded residents on rooftops as Koppu pummels Philippines

Thousands flee as Typhoon Koppu hits northern Philippines

Volcanic eruptions affect flow of world's major rivers

Cow dung and old tyres inspire S.African township artists

Pro-Compaore politician arrested in Burkina over failed coup

Eutelsat and Facebook to partner on vsat initiative to get Africa online

Two Niger soldiers killed in 'Boko Haram ambush'

'Paleo' sleep? Sorry, pre-modern people don't get more Zzzzs than we do

Did Homo sapiens colonize Asia before Europe?

Modern humans out of Africa sooner than thought

Breakthrough for electrode implants in the brain

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement