Navigation Links
Water, water, everywhere... but is it safe to drink?
Date:2/21/2011

This release is available in French.

"Over the last couple of generations, there has been a huge amount of groundwater pollution worldwide, and this has had a negative impact on our drinking water supply," says Barbara Sherwood Lollar, Canada Research Chair in Isotope Geochemistry of the Earth and the Environment at the University of Toronto.

Sherwood Lollar is taking part in the THINK CANADA Press Breakfast Sunday at AAAS. Her research examines society's efforts to reverse and stop groundwater pollution, and the effectiveness of bioremediation technologiesusing microbes to clean up organic contaminants such as petroleum hydrocarbons (oil, gasoline or diesel) or chemicals used in the electronics or transportation industries.

While the disposal of these organic contaminants tends to be well regulated today, this has not always been the case. Lax regulations and enforcement during the period immediately after the Second World War has left Europe and North America with a legacy of past contamination.

"This contamination has had a pervasive impact on the environment," says Sherwood Lollar. "It is still out there, and it needs to be dealt with."

Over the past decade, many techniques used to clean up groundwater contamination have harnessed the power of microbiology and the work of geochemists like Sherwood Lollar. "We are not genetically engineering microbes," she explains. "In many settings, naturally occurring microbes feed off the organic contaminants and, in the process, convert them to non-toxic end products."

Until now, the real difficulty has been in proving that the process exists and that the microbes are actually cleaning up the contaminants. Sherwood Lollar has developed techniques that show where the clean-up is happening and, just as importantly, where it is not.

"Elements like carbon have different stable isotopes: Carbon-12 and Carbon-13. One is slightly heavier than the other, and the microbes tend to feed mostly on the lighter one. When the microbes have been working for some time, the ratio of heavy-to-light carbon will change. It is this changereferred to as an isotopic signaturethat lets us know the water is being cleaned up," says Sherwood Lollar.

By cleaning up contaminated groundwater, it is possible to recuperate what would otherwise be a lost resource. The technique is starting to be used by regulators, and Sherwood Lollar is working with an international group of scientists to put together a guidance document for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

This will provide a set of recommendations about use in the field for practitioners, which will be a first step towards mainstreaming the technique.

"It's a common misconception that waterand especially our supply of groundwateris a renewable resource," says Sherwood Lollar. "But it isn't. So, it is particularly important that we manage it well and that we do whatever we can to conserve, protect and remediate what we have."

Sherwood Lollar will present her research and answer questions from the press, as part of the THINK CANADA Press Breakfast on the theme of water. The breakfast will be held in Room 202A of the Washington Convention Center at 8 a.m. on February 20, 2011 and will feature Canadian research experts across natural sciences and engineering, health, social sciences and humanities.


'/>"/>
Contact: Michael Adams
michael.adams@sshrc-crsh.gc.ca
613-219-7523
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology technology :

1. Water, water, everywhere but is it safe to drink?
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/26/2017)... ... April 26, 2017 , ... WonderWorks, ... NASA to showcase the future of deep space exploration and inspire space enthusiasts. ... Orion spacecraft and includes a guest appearance by former Shuttle Astronaut Don Thomas. ...
(Date:4/26/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... April 26, 2017 , ... ... headlines and drive high-level conversations among healthcare industry stakeholders, the discussion surrounding the ... – taking place May 15-18, 2017 in Los Angeles, Calif. Hosted by the ...
(Date:4/25/2017)... April 25, 2017 Providence ... licensed its novel immune-modulating technology to an undisclosed global ... allergy. Tregitopes, pronounced T·rej·itopes, are a ... by EpiVax CEO Annie De Groot ... immunoglobulin G, an autoimmune disease therapy, Tregitopes are ...
(Date:4/24/2017)... NEW YORK , April 24, 2017  Dante Labs ... interpretation at only EUR 850 (ca. $900). While American individuals ... marks the first time Europeans can access WGS below EUR ... which are crucial to leveraging genetic information to make informed ... more. ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:4/3/2017)... April 3, 2017  Data captured by ... platform, detected a statistically significant association between ... to treatment and objective response of cancer ... to predict whether cancer patients will respond ... as well as to improve both pre-infusion potency ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... March 29, 2017  higi, the health IT company ... North America , today announced a Series ... acquisition of EveryMove. The new investment and acquisition accelerates ... tools to transform population health activities through the collection ... higi collects and secures data today on ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... -- Research and Markets has announced the addition of ... - Industry Forecast to 2025" report to their offering. ... The Global Biometric Vehicle ... around 15.1% over the next decade to reach approximately $1,580 million ... estimates and forecasts for all the given segments on global as ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):