Proposal Title

Assessment of Water Quality to Ensure Environmental Health at Georgia Southern University Campus

Primary Faculty Mentor’s Name

Subhrajit Saha

Proposal Track

Student

Session Format

Poster

Abstract

Several anthropogenic factors pose threat to the quality of water at Georgia Southern campus. Evidences of water pollution are often clearly visible in the lakes, ponds, creeks and wetlands of campus. An alarming example is eutrophication, or algal blooms, which in turn create hypoxia and destroy aquatic fauna. Eutrophication is primarily caused by the runoff of pollutants such as nitrates and phosphates from nearby landscape management area and this phenomenon is being observed in campus aquatic systems. Potential pollutant sources may include, on-campus landscape and turf area, and nearby farms where fertilizers are applied. There are also high potentials of contamination of heavy metals, trace metals, and other anions and cations that may pollute the campus aquatic ecosystems through storm water drainage and runoff. These pollutants may come from pesticides and herbicides (applied on/near campus), oil runoff (from parking lots) or other contaminants (from off-campus business facilities).

With an overall objective of improving the environmental health and quality of GSU campus, this study was designed with four specific objectives, 1) to periodically test the pollutant levels of campus surface waters for one year, 2) to fully understand the storm water runoff/flow across campus, 3) to identify the on-campus and off-campus sources of pollutants, 4) to develop pollution prevention strategies and solutions and recommend those to the relevant authorities.

Starting from August 2014 water samples are being collected monthly from 50 selected surface water sites across the campus. After collection, the first step is to filter the water samples to ensure no solid particles remain in the water before analysis. The samples are then diluted to appropriate proportion for detecting and quantifying the trace metals (Fe, Cr, Zn), heavy metals (Hg, Pb, As, Al) and alkali metals (Ca, Mg, Na, K) by an Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) method. ICP-MS is an analytical technique, which can accurately measure the elemental composition up to parts per billion in the concentration scale of the sample. For anions like nitrate, phosphate, sulfate, halides, etc. an anion analysis is being performed by using an Ion-Chromatography. This is a separation technique where standard ion exchange column is being used to separate and subsequently quantify both the cations and anions in the water sample. This uses the standard solutions for calibrations to be done to reveal the concentrations of certain cations and anions.

Upon completion of the study we will understand the pollution levels of the campus waters and also identify the different sources of pollution. The findings of the study will enable us to develop strategies and recommendations to reduce or eliminate water pollution and ensure campus-wide healthy aquatic ecosystems.

Keywords

Anion, Aquatic ecosystem, Cation, Eutrophication, ICP-MS, Pollutant, Runoff, Surface water

Award Consideration

1

Location

Concourse/Atrium

Presentation Year

2014

Start Date

11-15-2014 9:40 AM

End Date

11-15-2014 10:55 AM

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

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Nov 15th, 9:40 AM Nov 15th, 10:55 AM

Assessment of Water Quality to Ensure Environmental Health at Georgia Southern University Campus

Concourse/Atrium

Several anthropogenic factors pose threat to the quality of water at Georgia Southern campus. Evidences of water pollution are often clearly visible in the lakes, ponds, creeks and wetlands of campus. An alarming example is eutrophication, or algal blooms, which in turn create hypoxia and destroy aquatic fauna. Eutrophication is primarily caused by the runoff of pollutants such as nitrates and phosphates from nearby landscape management area and this phenomenon is being observed in campus aquatic systems. Potential pollutant sources may include, on-campus landscape and turf area, and nearby farms where fertilizers are applied. There are also high potentials of contamination of heavy metals, trace metals, and other anions and cations that may pollute the campus aquatic ecosystems through storm water drainage and runoff. These pollutants may come from pesticides and herbicides (applied on/near campus), oil runoff (from parking lots) or other contaminants (from off-campus business facilities).

With an overall objective of improving the environmental health and quality of GSU campus, this study was designed with four specific objectives, 1) to periodically test the pollutant levels of campus surface waters for one year, 2) to fully understand the storm water runoff/flow across campus, 3) to identify the on-campus and off-campus sources of pollutants, 4) to develop pollution prevention strategies and solutions and recommend those to the relevant authorities.

Starting from August 2014 water samples are being collected monthly from 50 selected surface water sites across the campus. After collection, the first step is to filter the water samples to ensure no solid particles remain in the water before analysis. The samples are then diluted to appropriate proportion for detecting and quantifying the trace metals (Fe, Cr, Zn), heavy metals (Hg, Pb, As, Al) and alkali metals (Ca, Mg, Na, K) by an Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) method. ICP-MS is an analytical technique, which can accurately measure the elemental composition up to parts per billion in the concentration scale of the sample. For anions like nitrate, phosphate, sulfate, halides, etc. an anion analysis is being performed by using an Ion-Chromatography. This is a separation technique where standard ion exchange column is being used to separate and subsequently quantify both the cations and anions in the water sample. This uses the standard solutions for calibrations to be done to reveal the concentrations of certain cations and anions.

Upon completion of the study we will understand the pollution levels of the campus waters and also identify the different sources of pollution. The findings of the study will enable us to develop strategies and recommendations to reduce or eliminate water pollution and ensure campus-wide healthy aquatic ecosystems.