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Studies confirm presence, severity of pollution in national parks
Date:6/23/2010

m more commonly found at the outflow of wastewater treatment plants.

One of the studies also addressed polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs the often-toxic compounds formed from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, as well as from burning or decay of forests or other biomass. Anything from automobile exhaust to a forest fire or industrial activity can cause PAH emissions. One measurement of PAH concentrations in a sample taken from Glacier National Park, near a local aluminum smelter, were off the charts 60,000 times higher than most other samples.

Altogether, the scientists studied pollution issues at alpine, subarctic and arctic sites in Sequoia, Rocky Mountain, Glacier, Olympic, Mt. Rainier, Denali, and Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, and Noatak National Preserve, from 2003-05.

The research should provide a better understanding of the risks, including which pesticides are most likely to accumulate and may require improved regulation.

Among the other findings of the studies:

  • Every national park and preserve studied had a somewhat different pollution signature, reflecting localized and regional inputs.

  • Most of the pesticide and PAH pollution came from local and regional sources, although some traveled in short-term, episodic pulses from Asia and other very distant locations.

  • The comparatively cold temperatures in these alpine or arctic ecosystems tend to concentrate both PAH levels and pesticides.

  • The study concluded that "potential risks exist for indigenous people and subsistence food consumers that rely on fish and meat from cold ecosystems."

  • Local pollution sources can be very important. One lake in Olympic National Park had PAH deposition 10 times higher than another not far away, possibly because it was closer to Seattle and nearby ship traffic in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

  • Large-scale biomass burning near Glacier National Park seeme
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Contact: Staci Simonich
staci.simonich@oregonstate.edu
541-737-9194
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

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