Pollution

Light rail-based air quality monitoring study launched in Salt Lake City
January 31, 2015 09:33 AM - University of Utah

A team of University of Utah researchers has launched an air pollution monitoring project that will result in a better understanding of air quality across the Wasatch Front.

Utah researchers Logan Mitchell, Erik Crosman, John Horel, and John Lin of the University of Utah’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences are a few months in to the ongoing project, in which data are being gathered from sensors mounted on TRAX trains, in coordination with several partners in the community.

The project seeks to measure pollutants, including fine particulate matter (PM2.5) ozone and greenhouse gases, as well as meteorology using instruments installed on the Utah Transit Authority’s light rail train (TRAX) that travels through the Salt Lake Valley. 

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Salting Roads takes a Toll on the Environment
January 14, 2015 10:49 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

The United States has a salt problem, and it extends well beyond the excessive sodium we consume in our diets. In the winter months, municipalities rely on dumping salt on the roads to minimize the effects of ice. Altogether, the U.S. uses ten times the amount of salt on roadways than it does in the processed foods we consume. While the salt may help to keep drivers safe, it does come at a cost:

1. It Increases Our Own Salt Consumption

You can throw salt down on roads, but you can’t force it to stay there. In due time, salt makes its ways into nearby waterways where it lingers. As a result, a lot of the water we wind up drinking has higher levels of salt than it would otherwise. Vox cites a study that finds 84% of city-adjacent streams have higher levels of chloride thanks specifically to these road-salting techniques. Apparently, during the months following salted roads, 29% of these streams have more salt than the federal “safety limits” for drinking water allow.

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SPOTLIGHT

Are the US drinking water standards outdated?

Virginia Tech via EurekAlert!

Changes in drinking water quality in the 21st Century are coming from a myriad of circumstances, and not all are for the best. Top contenders for why water-drinking quality might become suspect to the average consumer include California's drought conditions, the technology of fracking, and the nationwide aging infrastructure of rusty, degrading pipes.

Citing these and other relatively recent scenarios, Andrea Dietrich, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, and her colleague Gary A. Burlingame of the Philadelphia Water Department, are calling for a critical review and rethinking of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) secondary standards for maintaining consumers' confidence in tap water as well as in its sensory quality.

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