Navigation Links
The dark side of spring? Pollution in our melting snow
Date:3/28/2011

TORONTO, ON With birds chirping and temperatures warming, spring is finally in the air. But for University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) environmental chemist Torsten Meyer, springtime has a dark side.

"During the winter months, contaminants accumulate in the snow," says Meyer, an expert on snow-bound organic contaminants and a post-doctoral fellow at UTSC. "When the snow melts, these chemicals are released into the environment at high concentrations."

In a specially designed, temperature-controlled laboratory at UTSCwhich includes a homemade snow-gun and a chemical pumpMeyer creates large baths of fresh snow already tainted with organic contaminants . This one-of-a-kind set-up enables the researcher to slowly melt his "dirty" snow, collect the melt-water and track which chemicals emerge from the snowpack and when.

Meyer's research reveals a worrying surprise. "One of the main findings is that there is a peak contaminant flush at the very beginning of the melt," he says. With the advent of spring, according to Meyer, comes a deluge of pollution.

By the time snow has turned black with muck and grime, many harmful chemicals including those from pesticides, car exhaust, telecommunications wiring insulation, water repellent clothing, paints or coatings may have already seeped out of the snow and into the surrounding ground water or surface water.

Although Meyer views his work as fundamental research, his findings have obvious real-world implications, such as how municipalities choose their snow dump sites. According to Meyer, cities and towns should be very careful to select well-contained sites to protect against that early flush of pollutants.

Meyer's research is unique because previous studies on snowmelt contaminants have all used either natural snow or very low volumes of artificially produced snow. He is also one of only a handful of researchers in the world who study snow and organic contaminants.

"Getting quantitative information on the flush of contaminants from a melting snowpack is particularly important," says Professor Frank Wania, head of Meyer's research cluster at UTSC. "The melt often coincides with time periods when many aquatic organisms are at a vulnerable stage of their life cycle."


'/>"/>

Contact: Karen Ho
karenho@utsc.utoronto.ca
416-208-5149
University of Toronto
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Pinpointing air pollutions effects on the heart
2. Hold your breath: Air pollution plays role in cardiac, metabolic diseases
3. Protecting ecosystems, pollution remediation goals of research at UH
4. Pollution with antibiotics leads to resistant bacteria
5. Pollution tax rebates little help for low-income workers
6. University of Miami scientists find new way to estimate global rainfall and track ocean pollution
7. Morning-after spike in ozone air pollution from Super Bowl XLV?
8. Findings on pollution damage to human airways could yield new therapies
9. Dodds contributes to new national study on nitrogen water pollution
10. Virginia Tech engineer identifies new concerns for antibiotic resistance, pollution
11. Plants play larger role than thought in cleaning up air pollution
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/2/2016)...   The Weather Company , an IBM Business (NYSE: ... capability in which consumers will be able to interact with ... via voice or text and receive relevant information about the ... Marketers have long sought an advertising solution that can create ... relevant and valuable; and can scale across millions of interactions ...
(Date:6/1/2016)... -- Favorable Government Initiatives Coupled With Implementation ... to Boost Global Biometrics System Market Through 2021  ... " Global Biometrics Market By Type, By End ... - 2021", the global biometrics market is projected to ... growing security concerns across various end use sectors such ...
(Date:5/20/2016)... -- VoiceIt is excited to announce its new marketing ... working together, VoiceIt and VoicePass will offer an ... slightly different approaches to voice biometrics, collaboration between ... Both companies ... "This marketing and technology partnership allows VoiceIt ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... DIEGO , June 24, 2016 ... more sensitively detects cancers susceptible to PARP inhibitors ... circulating tumor cells (CTCs). The new test has ... HRD-targeted therapeutics in multiple cancer types. ... targeting DNA damage response pathways, including PARP, ATM, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016   Boston Biomedical ... novel compounds designed to target cancer stemness pathways, ... been granted Orphan Drug Designation from the U.S. ... of gastric cancer, including gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. ... designed to inhibit cancer stemness pathways by targeting ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Cancer Foundation (PCF) is pleased to announce 24 new Young Investigator (YI) ... of the Class of 2016 were selected from a pool of 128 applicants ... the Class of 2016 PCF Young Investigators ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... In a new case report published ... how a patient who developed lymphedema after being treated for breast cancer benefitted from ... the paradigm for dealing with this debilitating, frequent side effect of cancer treatment. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: