‘Dead Zone’ is largest ever in Gulf of Mexico

From National Geographic

A record-breaking, New Jersey-sized dead zone was measured by scientists in the Gulf of Mexico this week—a sign that water quality in U.S. waterways is worse than expected.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced today that this summer’s dead zone is the largest ever recorded, measuring 8,776 miles. This is more expansive than the nearly 8,200 square-mile area that was forecast in July. Since monitoring began 32 years ago, the average ...

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Examining the connection between human health and environment in Central Appalachia

Research team (from left): Emily Satterwhite, Susan West Marmagas, Leigh-Anne Krometis, Linsey Marr, Korine Kolivras, and Julia Gohlke.

From VT News

AUG 2 2017 | Spend enough time driving through Central Appalachia, and you’ll see lush green mountain ranges brimming with diverse plant and animal species. Within those mountains, though, you can also find some of the most dramatic human health disparities in the nation.

Past studies going back to the 1970s indicate heightened incidences of ...

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Ill winds: open burning of munitions waste at arsenals contaminates local air and land

From ProPublica

by Abrahm Lustgarten

The Pentagon’s handling of munitions and their waste has poisoned millions of acres, and left Americans to guess at the threat to their health.

Shortly after dawn most weekdays, a warning siren rips across the flat, swift water of the New River running alongside the Radford Army Ammunition Plant. Red lights warning away boaters and fishermen flash from the plant, the nation’s largest supplier of propellant for artillery and the source of explosives for almost every American ...

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The extinction crisis is far worse than you think

From CNN

The extinction crisis is far worse than you think. In all of Earth’s history, there have been five mass extinction events. You can see them charted here. Now, we’re on the verge of the sixth extinction. And three-quarters of all species could vanish. Imagine three out of four species that were common are gone. This is the first time humans have caused anything like this.

Experience this interactive report at CNN

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Toxic algae blooms are spreading

From National Geographic

When sea lions suffered seizures and birds and porpoises started dying on the California coast last year, scientists weren’t entirely surprised. Toxic algae is known to harm marine mammals.

But when researchers found enormous amounts of toxin in a pelican that had been slurping anchovies, they decided to sample fresh-caught fish. To their surprise, they found toxins at such dangerous levels in anchovy meat that the state urged people to immediately stop eating them.

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Tony Timpano’s paper in Science: Mountaintop mining & crop irrigation can increase salinity in freshwater, impacting diversity

From VT News

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 2, 2016 – Aquatic life can suffer when high concentrations of dissolved salts enter freshwater ecosystems, a process known as salinization.

An international, multi-institutional team of researchers that includes a Virginia Tech graduate student recommends ways that humans can protect freshwater from salts in a recent article in the journal Science.

The recommendations include the use of less water for agricultural practices, less salt for road de-icing, less discharge or sequestering salts during ...

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Peter Vikesland explores new methods for detecting pollutants in the environment

From VT News

Rapid pollutant detection can prevent widespread outbreaks. While there are many existing techniques for detecting such contamination, they generally require highly specific instruments for each contaminant.

Peter Vikesland, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech and Haoran Wei of Zaozhuang in Shandong, China, a doctoral student in environmental engineering, describe challenges related to deploying surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) used for detection in their paper published by Scientific Reports, “pH-Triggered Molecular Alignment for Reproducible SERS ...

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Tony Timpano is investigating the impacts of coal mining on Appalachian streams

Tony Timpano is an IGC student and a Ph.D. candidate in Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation. His field research is centered in the Appalachian “coal country” of southwestern Virginia and southern West Virginia.

Tony is interested in understanding how coal mining affects stream water quality and aquatic life. Ultimately, he hopes that his research findings will help guide policies on monitoring and managing salt pollution in streams.

“I want to improve the science of water quality management to enhance the capability of regulators to ...

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Special Seminar: Emma Rosi-Marshall from the Cary Institute will talk about pharmaceuticals as agents of ecological change

This week’s EEB seminar speaker is Dr. Emma Rosi-Marshall from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem studies.

Learn how pharmaceutical pollution harms aquatic life and compromises the health of our nation’s freshwaters. Rosi-Marshall will also outline what is needed to combat the growing problem.”

Title:
Pharmaceutical and personal care products as agents of ecological change in aquatic ecosystems

More about Dr. Rosi-Marshall:
“Dr. Rosi-Marshall conducts research on factors that control and influence ecosystem ...

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Madeline Schreiber’s research will trace the long-term effects of coal ash spills

Monday, July 21, 2014 
By Tonia Moxley, at The Roanoke Times 

DANVILLE — Virginia Tech researchers hope a $25,000 National Science Foundation grant will help them find better ways to trace the long-term effects of coal ash spills like the one in February that fouled 70 miles of the Dan River from Eden, North Carolina, to Kerr Lake in Virginia.

The NSF RAPID grant will “help us get a snapshot of what’s going on,” said Madeline Schreiber, ...

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North Carolina Ash Spill: Regulations Meet Politics

Ash Spill Shows How Watchdog Was Defanged

North Carolina regulators say that under Gov. Pat McCrory, a weakened Department of Environment and Natural Resources has abandoned its regulatory role.

Read the complete article in the New York Times (from February 28, 2014):

http://nyti.ms/1fXJJR3

Below, an animated graphic by the Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability at Wake Forest University shows the aftermath of the coal ash pond rupture at Duke Energy’s ...

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