Chemical Analysis of Rainwater Runoff Samples for Detection of Environmental Contaminants

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner
Monday, 5 January 2015
Gabriel J. Swenson, Paine College, Augusta, GA

Abstract: It was a pleasure to attend the AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project workshop (May 2014, Washington, DC). The workshops and site visits were helpful in being exposed to current curriculum on climate change and recent technological advances and methodologies associated with the study of climate change. It is my intension to implement the full AMS Climate Studies course at Paine College. Paine College is a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in Augusta, GA with a strong Mathematics, Science and Technology Department offering several majors in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related disciplines. During the Summer 2014 semester, a pipeline program was offered for approximately 50 middle school and high school students which focused on climate change as the primary theme of the program. Lecture materials from the AMS Diversity Project workshop were used to educate students on climate change. During the Summer 2014 Training and Research Experience in Environmental Science (TREES) program research was conducted to determine the effects of climate change on mobilization of pollutants associated with the combustion of fossil fuels. It has been projected that there will be an increase in the frequency and intensity of rainfall events due to climate change. These rainfall events may mobilize more of the dangerous pollutants associated with fossil fuels into pristine aquatic ecosystems. Experiments were conducted to evaluate the amount of contaminants being transported into these systems. The concentrations of Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), Fluorene and Anthracene were analyzed in samples collected from Phinzy Swamp, a temporary wetland in Augusta, Georgia. Results of High Performance Liquid Chromotography (HPLC) of these samples suggest that these contaminants are being mobilized and accumulating in pristine waterways and wetlands. The increasing concentration of harmful pollutants will likely have a significant and detrimental impact on the flora and fauna of these impacted ecosystems. If unresolved, increases in rainfall events will likely facilitate greater mobilization of these contaminants into aquatic environments which may affect ecosystem stabilization and human health.