Rare earth elements are finding their way into Colorado water supplies, driven by changes in climate, finds a new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Rare earth elements are necessary components of many computing and other high-tech devices, like cell phones and hard drives. But there is growing recognition that they can be hazardous in the environment even at low levels of concentration.
“This is of concern because their concentrations are not monitored and there are no water quality standards set for them,” says study author Diane McKnight, who is an INSTAAR Fellow and Engineering professor at the University of Colorado Boulder.
The study is the first to look at how rare earth elements move within a watershed that is rich in minerals. It is also the first to investigate how climate change, by altering stream flow and natural weathering processes, is releasing more rare earth elements into streams.
Continue reading at University of Colorado at Boulder
Image via University of Colorado at Boulder