Monthly Archives: April 2015

Toxic ‘Blue-Green Algae’ in many Canadian Lakes

BLUE GREEN ALGAE
Cyanobacteria blooms pose a serious threat to drinking-water sources, because certain species contain toxins harmful to the liver or nervous system.
Cyanobacteria blooms pose a serious threat to drinking-water sources, because certain species contain toxins harmful to the liver or nervous system. (Photo credit: Dr. Ron Zurawell, Ph.D., P.Biol. Limnologist/Water Quality Specialist, Alberta Environment)(Photo credit: Dr. Ron Zurawell, Ph.D., P.Biol. Limnologist/Water Quality Specialist, Alberta Environment)
Article courtesy of ScienceDaily |February 26, 2015 | ScienceDaily | Shared as educational material
Summary:
Image result for blue green algaeThe organisms commonly known as blue-green algae have proliferated much more rapidly than other algae in lakes across North America and Europe over the past two centuries — and in many cases the rate of increase has sharply accelerated since the mid-20th century, according to an international team of researchers.
Image result for blue green algaeThe organisms commonly known as blue-green algae have proliferated much more rapidly than other algae in lakes across North America and Europe over the past two centuries — and in many cases the rate of increase has sharply accelerated since the mid-20th century, according to an international team of researchers led by scientists at McGill University.

The following youtube video is one of many published regarding the toxic blue-green algae. “Bloom – the Plight of Lake Champlain” (Part 1 of 4) is a documentary featuring Lake Champlain.


Their study, published in the journal Ecology Letters, represents the first continental-scale examination of historical changes in levels of cyanobacteria, the scientific term for the photosynthetic bacteria that form blue-green scum on the surface of ponds and lakes during hot summer months. Cyanobacteria blooms pose a serious threat to drinking-water sources, because certain species contain toxins harmful to the liver or nervous system.

Image result for blue green algae“We found that cyanobacterial populations have expanded really strongly in many lakes since the advent of industrial fertilizers and rapid urban growth,” says Zofia Taranu, who led the study as a PhD candidate in McGill’s Department of Biology. “While we already knew that cyanobacteria prefer warm and nutrient-rich conditions, our study is also the first to show that the effect of nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, overwhelm those of global warming.”

Alpine lakes affected:
Researchers from France, Italy, Spain, the UK, Malaysia, and across Canada contributed to the study. While the increase in cyanobacteria in agriculturally developed watersheds was in line with their expectations, the scientists were surprised to find that cyanobacteria also increased in many remote, alpine lakes. In those sites, warmer temperatures and nutrient loading from atmospheric sources are likely to have played a bigger role than direct agricultural runoff.

Dense algal blooms have become a summertime staple of media coverage — and a growing concern of lakefront homeowners — in certain regions, but until now there had been little in the way of long-term, large-scale synthesis of data on the phenomenon. This left room for doubt as to whether harmful algal blooms were truly on the rise, or whether communities were simply better equipped to identify and report blooms when they occur.

The rapid increase in cyanobacteria identified in the study points to the potential for a parallel increase in the concentration of harmful cyanotoxins, says Taranu, who is now a postdoctoral fellow at Université de Montréal. While potentially toxic species don’t synthesize toxins at all times, studies have shown that one of the best predictors of toxin concentrations in lakes is the total abundance of cyanobacteria.

Image result for Cyanobacteria cause damage to the liver or nervous systemCyanobacteria can produce toxins that cause damage to the liver or nervous system. The most common symptoms of acute exposure to harmful algal blooms are skin rash or irritation, gastroenteritis and respiratory distress. Chronic, low dose exposures over a lifetime may also result in liver tumors or endocrine disruption. Preliminary studies also suggest that a recently isolated cyanotoxin may become more concentrated across food chains and may be associated with the formation of progressive neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS diseases. Although this latter work is still controversial among scientists, “our results underline the importance of further research in this area,” Taranu says.

Image result for minimizing excess fertilizer applicationCollaborations needed to tackle problem:
“Our work shows that we need to work harder as a society to reduce nutrient discharges to surface waters,” says Irene Gregory-Eaves, an associate professor of biology at McGill and co-author of the study. “Because diffuse nutrient loading (as opposed to end-of-pipe effluent) is the main issue, we need to build collaborations to tackle this complex problem. For example, partnerships among freshwater scientists and farmers are starting to happen, and more of this needs to take place, so that we can strike a balance between maximizing crop yields and minimizing excess fertilizer application.”

http://savethewater.org/2015/03/04/blue-green-algae-proliferating-lakes-2/

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Friday Fun With Words – Ha! Ha!

Image result for paraprosdokiansParaprosdokiansImage result for paraprosdokians

Apparently Winston Churchill loved paraprosdokians (often mispelled as araprosdokians). These are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected, and frequently humorous. Here are 29 to get you giggling.

WATER DROPLET HAPPY ICON GIMPCROPPEDWell I agree – nothing like clever humour –
these certainly had me chuckling!

Image result for paraprosdokians

Image result for a will, I want to be in itWhere there’s a will, I want to be in it.

Image result for the last thing i want to do is hurt youThe last thing I want to do is hurt you, but it’s still on my list.

Image result for light travels faster than sound einsteinSince light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

Image result for if i agreed with youIf I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.

Image result for we never really grow upWe never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

Image result for war does not determine who is rightWar does not determine who is right – only who is left.
Image result for knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit quoteKnowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Image result for They begin the evening news with “Good Evening”They begin the evening news with “Good Evening”, then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.
Image result for to steal ideas from one person is plagiarism

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

Image result for Buses stop in bus stations. Trains stop in train stationsBuses stop in bus stations. Trains stop in train stations. On my desk is a work station.
Image result for Turns out I just wanted paychecks.

I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.
In filling out an application, where it says, ‘Emergency contact’, I put ‘doctor’.

Image result for bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy

Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

CONSCIENCEA clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.

PARACHUTEYou do not need a parachute to skydive unless you want to do it again.

Image result for pot of gold clipartMoney can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.

INDECISIVEI used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.

TARGETTo be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
Image result for paraprosdokiansDuring WWII Sir Winston Churchill address to congress began with: “It has often been said that Britain and America are two nations divided only by a common language”.

Image result for I am supposed to respect my elders, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to find one now.

http://storyfix.com/useless-humor-fun-with-words

NYC Water Tank Project ~ Fabulous Results!

ICON
Launching summer 2014, The Water Tank Project will transform the New York City skyline.  Look up! Some 300 water tanks around NYC are getting artsy makeovers all in the name of water conservation.

Run by Word Above the Street, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering environmental awareness and water conservation through art, the Water Tank Project looks like it will be a gushing success.water-tank-project-new-york-2.jpg

Art gets wrapped around NYC water tanks | ZoomIN

The Water Tank Project is the inaugural initiative of Word Above the Street, a non-profit dedicated to fostering environmental awareness and social advocacy through art. The incredible Water Tank Project will see approximately 100 local artists, including NYC public school students and internationally acclaimed artists such as Laurie Simmons and Odili Donald Odita, wrapping their artwork around selected city tanks. JORDI FORNIESArtwork by acclaimed artists and New York City public school students will be wrapped around rooftop water tanks throughout the city, celebrating the talents of established and emerging artists, and calling attention to the global water crisis. IMAGE3The Water Tank Project is part art exhibition, part awareness campaign. For the duration of the project, art above will be complemented by action on the ground through educational programs, public tours, social media activities and a symposium dedicated to inspiring fresh views on global water issues. 

For the duration of the city-wide event, tanks from Staten Island to the Bronx will be wrapped in vibrant artwork in hopes of bringing much-needed attention to global water issues. Often overlooked as rooftop eyesores, some of the 17,000 water tanks in Manhattan date back as far as the Industrial Revolution. While some may consider the rusty relics a thing of the past today, the Water Tank Project brings an important environmental purpose to the large iconic barrels.

IMAGE2 DOG

If you happen to be at Union Square, look up at the water tower above the Burlington Coat Factory. There’s a picture of a surfing dog on it, taken by fashion photographer Bruce Weber. Part of the Water Tank Project, this is one of several water towers around the city that will be wrapped in artwork to raise awareness about the global water crisis.
“I once had a dog named Palomino. He was an English Golden Retriever who loved nothing more than freewheeling like a hot dog surfer on the level of Kelly Slater. Whether on water or on land, with Palomino life was always an adventure”
. Bruce Weber, “Palomino Takes a Wave”.

ODILI DONALD ODITA
This painting called “Current” by Odili Odeta  – 282 11th Ave  (Chelsea) can be seen in the skyline to the left of Laurie Simmons’ Love Doll .

SWIMMER LAURIE SIMMONSSince I moved to New York many years ago I’ve wondered what it would be like to swim in a water tank. The Love Doll gets to enact this fantasy for me.” Laurie Simmons 

BACTERIA“Despite the fact that Georgia, the country where I was born, has numerous rivers, in the days of the Soviet Empire, when nothing was working well, there were many hours a day when we were without water. During my life I have lived in different countries, countries where water only runs during certain hours of the day. For my work for the water tank, “Bacteria”, my thoughts were focused on the contamination of water. Water can cause health problems; that made me think of the bacteria in water. We associate water with purity, cleanliness, and well-being. In many areas of the world, this is not the case. I imagined water bacteria in my painting for The Water Tank Project to raise awareness.” — Eteri Chkadua

SIGRID CALON

The Sigrid Calon tank at 530 West 25th St. in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood.

FEMALE FIGURE LORENZO PETRANTONIWater Means Life – Lorenzo Petrantoni – 393 W Broadway (SoHo) 

GUSH As you stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge toward Manhattan, look to the South to view Marilyn Minter’s Gush atop 264 Water Street. SCOTT CHRISTOPHERTessa Traeger – 110 Fulton Street Tessa Traeger (Financial District)

IMAGE1Our aim is to produce art as social intervention, to inspire awe and joy, to educate, and to alter attitudes and habits among those who experience The Water Tank Project, ultimately creating meaningful and long-lasting change.

POTTERYThe organizers of the event hope that by decorating the tanks, the artsy initiative will inspire awe and joy as well as educate and alter everyday attitudes and habits towards water conservation. In addition to the water tank makeovers, the organization is planning tours, parties, educational programs and multiple forums discussing global water issues.

seen from Union SquareInterestingly, the printed wraps are installed on the tanks by Isseks Brothers, a family-owned NYC business established in the late 1800s. Isseks is one of only two companies in New York City that build and maintain water tanks. 

Giraffe Katie gives birth ~ Dallas Zoo ~ Amazing!

Katie the Giraffe’s Story | Giraffe Birth Live – Published on Apr 10, 2015 – Get to know Katie, the sweet and friendly giraffe at the Dallas Zoo who is a mother-to-be and star of Giraffe Birth Live. | http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/…

 

Katie the Giraffe Gives Birth!, published on Apr 13, 2015 – Katie the Giraffe gave birth! Watch the highlights as captured on Animal Planet’s Live Cam. |http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/…

The following remarkable BBC wildlife video is highly recommended:
Born to Be Wild: Giraffes on the Move with Joanna Lumley, u
ploaded by BBCWorldwide on Apr 9, 2009 – Joanna Lumley gets up close and personal with one of the most graceful creatures on the planet – the giraffe. Joanna follows the dangerous journey of seven endangered Rothschild giraffes to a new home in the hope that they will establish a breeding herd.

WATER DROPLET HAPPY ICON GIMPCROPPEDHave a great weekend everyone
– warmer weather, sunny days,
– ah, spring at last!

Tragic! Ocean choking on 8 million metric tons plastic per year

 

Episode 6 Ocean Requiem, uploaded on Jun 30, 2009.  This is a rather slow moving video but the end is very touching. This is a good relaxing video with a message so enjoy and visit seashephard.org to see how you can help. 

February 13, 2015
Plastic in oceanPromo image Lindsay Robinson/University of Georgia
As Maggie recently wrote about, there’s a lot of plastic crap in Earth’s oceans; The latest estimate was that there are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in our seas, weighing over 250,000 tons. That’s about 700 pieces of plastic for every human on earth.

Image result for Jenna Jambeck university of GeorgiaBut a new study paints an even more alarming picture of the situation. Jenna Jambeck and her colleagues at the University of Georgia found that an incredibly large amount of plastic waste is mismanaged by the populations living in coastal area, and that even a conservative estimate of how much ends up in the sea puts adds up to between 4.8 million to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic. Per year. (8 million is the mid-point of the estimate).

Part of the problem is that some of the countries with the largest coastal populations – mostly in Asia – are also developing nations with inadequate infrastructure to deal with all the waste that they generate.

Here one of the authors of the study explains the methodology behind the numbers and also gives a warning about the future if we don’t clean up our act on waste management:

Image result for From there, we looked at what percent of that waste is plasticOur methods for this estimate were to look at per person waste generation rates in 2010 from 192 countries with a coastline in the world. Because people’s activities nearest the coast are responsible for most of the plastic going into the water, we limited our analysis to a 50km strip of the coastline. From there, we looked at what percent of that waste is plastic, and what percentage of THAT is mismanaged waste (which means litter or when waste is not captured and dumped on the land). From there we had three scenarios of input into the ocean: low, mid and high. Our 8 million metric ton estimate is that mid-range scenario. 8 million metric tons of plastic is equal to 5 bags filled with plastic going into the ocean along every foot of coastline in the world. That… is HUGE.

And it can get worse. If we assume a business as usual projection with growing populations, increasing plastic consumption and increased waste generation, by 2025, this number doubles – we may be adding 17.5 million metric tons of plastic per year. If that happens, then our cumulative input over time from 2010 to 2025 is projected to be 155 million metric tons.

The solutions to this plastic pollution problem are known, we just need to actually do it. We need to cut back on plastic production in the first place, so there’s less of it in the system. Then whatever is left needs to all be captured and managed properly. This requires not only better infrastructure (especially in poorer areas of the world), but also social and cultural changes. People need to be educated on what needs to be done with their trash in general, and plastic specifically.

 

Mother Nature at Her Most Bizarre ~ Photos

I received the following photograph collection of Mother Nature’s amazing oddities, “These Bizarre Nature Photos Show How Strange Earth Really Is” from http://www.viralnova.com/earth-oddities yesterday.

These photos might look like they come from an alien planet, but it turns out our own little Earth is capable of some truly weird stuff. All of these things occur naturally across the globe because of, like, science and stuff. A lot of the reasons why go over my head, but it’s all true. It’s easy to appreciate the wondrous beauty of Earth without knowing exactly how it happens. Some of these are cringe-worthy, but others make me want to buy a plane ticket. And I am definitely going to pay closer attention to sunsets from now on. Take a look at some of the cool things you didn’t realize happen on our home planet.

1. Never-ending Wave: Occurs twice a year in Brazil when the Atlantic ocean meets the mouth of the Amazon River. The resulting waves can travel 500 miles inland before slowing down.

2. Underwater Crop Circles: In Japan male pufferfish flapping their fins creating their alien-esque circles in the sand.

3. Bleeding Glacier: Also known as Blood Falls in Antarctica, the outflowing water resembles blood due to iron oxide.

4. Blue Lava: Due to sulfuric gases at extremely high temperatures, this volcano in Indonesia produces the blue glowing lava.

5. Calcifying Lake: This creepy lake in Tanzania has such high PH levels that it calcifies any animal that goes into the water.

6. Cocooned Trees: During the flood season in Pakistan, spiders are forced to flee to the trees where their webs create this effect.

7. Danixia Landforms: Over millions of years, the red sandstone and mineral deposits in certain areas of China have created these rainbow-like landforms.

8. Frost Flowers: In Arctic areas these floral ice formations occur when the temperature between the ocean and the atmosphere differs.

9. Green Flash: This rare phenomenon occurs when the conditions are right at the beginning or end of a sunset.

10. Hair Ice: Water escaping ice in freezing weather can have this follicle-effect due to certain bacteria presence.

11. Horsetail Falls: In Yosemite National Park, California, this waterfall looks more like lave with a bright orange glow at certain times of the day in February.

WATER DROPLET HAPPY ICON GIMPCROPPEDHave a great weekend everyone.  It looks as if Mother Nature is finally going to be kind to us and send us some half decent weather over the weekend – hope you have the same.

Arsenic, the Silent Killer – Part II

Please see my first article on arsenic: Arsenic – The Sleeping Giant, published Mar. 31st this year.

“Know Your Well ~ Saskatchewan’s watershed authority teaches users about proper maintenance.” This article appeared in the May/June issue of watercanada magazine by Kerry Freek


A man cleans a well during a community clean-up day in Anguissa, Yaoundé, Cameroon. Provincially, Saskatchewan has got high levels of arsenic, selenium and uranium. When floods occur, these concentrations can make well water unsafe. The Saskatchewan Watershed Authority recommended regular flushes to maintain good water quality.

For Saskatchewan, spring runoff season presents a huge risk for private well contamination, especially considering the province’s high levels of arsenic, Image result for Saskatchewan Watershed Authority (SWA)selenium, and uranium. At the height of this year’s flood crisis in theImage result for drinking water standards saskatchewanPrairies, Terry Hanley, director of science, information, and monitoring for the Saskatchewan Watershed
Authority (SWA) shared details on the water quality risks for well users.

“We have a database of about 4,000 wells that we’ve tested,” says Hanley. “About 50 per cent of those wells exceed at least one maximum allowable concentration (MAC) or drinking water standard. Now that there’s flooding, there’s increased risk to the 100,000 residents that rely on wells.”
He says that last year, after severe flooding in Maple Creek, Yorkton, and North Battleford, 70 per cent of wells in those areas exceeded acceptable nitrate or bacteriological levels. “The MAC for drinking water is 45 milligrams per litre, but we had levels in the 1,500 range,” says Hanley. “There are pretty significant risks, and we expect the same this year.”
That’s why the SWA offers free well tests. “We’ve had E. coli levels in the tens of thousands,” he reveals.
“That’s slightly less than treated effluent—it’s usually a shock to people. Just because the water’s clear doesn’t mean it’s good.”
In Manitoba—also affected by the spring floods—the chief provincial public health officer announced that people using private water supplies should boil their water and test it for bacteria. The Province added that it would cover the full cost of well-water testing for affected areas.
Image result for shock chlorinated the wellsIn addition to gathering demographics on site visits, SWA assesses the wells. How old is the casing? Are there well caps in place? Have the owners shock chlorinated the wells after major weather events?
They found some surprising statistics. Two out of three wells didn’t have caps or casing that is at least two to three inches above ground. Nine out of ten wells had never been shock chlorinated.
“It only takes a few hours to fix these things,” says Hanley, who hopes these assessments will help owners take the simple steps to better understand and maintain their wells.
It appears the program is working. “Of the clients we’ve tested, about 60 per cent have adopted our recommendations,” says Hanley. “That’s huge for us.” 

Here’s a link I  found on Uranium tailings in the Athabasca basin of northern Saskatchewan – definitely worth reading-  http://www.usask.ca/geology/JimSite/Research.html