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Substantial work ahead for water issues, say scientists at ACS' Final Report briefing
Date:1/27/2009

r the levels of lead in water in D.C. from 2001 to 2003 based on prior scientific research were very significant and disturbing," Edwards said. "When the first reports came out finding that there was no detectable harm done, it defied previous scientific understanding. So we did our own study. For the youngest children, those under the age of 1.3 years, you saw substantial increases in blood-lead incidence immediately after switching to chloramine."

Finding appropriate and sustainable solutions to problems like these, said William Ball, Ph.D., from Johns Hopkins University, demands a sharper focus on water-related science. Ball uses computer science to provide a more intelligent way of gathering environmental data. For the last three years, he has collaborated with environmental engineers, hydrologists and computer scientists to create the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Observatory (CBEO). The CBEO has added to data that has been developed for decades on Chesapeake Bay.

"I disagree with the assertion that the science is understood but we just lack the political will," Ball said. "In fact, we're shy on both fronts, and we need to keep moving forward. The work so far we're interpolating past data and analyzing past data reveals that the Bay is even more complex than many might imagine."

For instance, hypoxic zones in the Bay large areas of low oxygen levels where most animals can't live are still growing despite lacking the nutrients they need for expansion. "We don't fully understood why that is so," Ball said. "There's a lot to be learned yet about what locations and causes lead to that phenomenon, whether there are carbon sources coming in from the shallows into the deep that current models and understanding don't capture."

Ball urged political action on nutrient reductions, the so-called 'low-lying fruit.' "But we also have to strategize on what the next fruit to pick could be and even what trees to plant, and that takes a lot
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Contact: Charmayne Marsh
c_marsh@acs.org
202-872-4445
American Chemical Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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