A consistent methodology for assessing the accumulating effects of natural and manmade change on riverine systems has not been developed for a whole host of reasons including a lack of data, disagreement over core elements to consider, and complexity. Accumulated state assessments of aquatic systems is an integral component of watershed cumulative effects assessment. The Yukon River is the largest free flowing river in the world and is the fourth largest drainage basin in North America, draining 855,000 km(2) in Canada and the United States. Because of its remote location, it is considered pristine but little is known about its cumulative state. This review identified 7 "hot spot" areas in the Yukon River Basin including Lake Laberge, Yukon River at Dawson City, the Charley and Yukon River confluence, Porcupine and Yukon River confluence, Yukon River at the Dalton Highway Bridge, Tolovana River near Tolovana, and Tanana River at Fairbanks. Climate change, natural stressors, and anthropogenic stresses have resulted in accumulating changes including measurable levels of contaminants in surface waters and fish tissues, fish and human disease, changes in surface hydrology, as well as shifts in biogeochemical loads. This article is the first integrated accumulated state assessment for the Yukon River basin based on a literature review. It is the first part of a 2-part series. The second article (Dubé et al. 2013a, this issue) is a quantitative accumulated state assessment of the Yukon River Basin where hot spots and hot moments are assessed outside of a "normal" range of variability.
Acidification of soils and surface waters caused by acid deposition is still a major problem in southern Scandinavia, despite clear signs of recovery. Besides emission control, liming of lakes, streams, and wetlands is currently used to ameliorate acidification in Sweden. An alternative strategy is forest soil liming to restore the acidified upland soils from which much acidified runoff originates. This cost-benefit analysis compared these liming strategies with a special emphasis on the time perspective for expected benefits. Benefits transfer was used to estimate use values for sport ffishing and nonuse values in terms of existence values. The results show that large-scale forest soil liming is not socioeconomically profitable, while lake liming is, if it is done efficiently-in other words, if only acidified surface waters are treated. The beguiling logic of "solving" an environmental problem at its source (soils), rather than continuing to treat the symptoms (surface waters), is thus misleading.
Cites: Nature. 2007 Nov 22;450(7169):537-4018033294
The biomarker of xenobiotic exposure cytochrome p450A1 (Cyp1A) was used to analyze the biological response to chemical pollution in Salmo trutta (brown trout) from nine high mountain European lakes in Norway, Tatras, Tyrol, and central Pyrenees. Hepatic Cyp1A mRNA levels correlated both with the reciprocal of absolute annual average air temperatures of the sampled lakes and with muscle concentrations of several hydrophobic organohalogen compounds (OC), including chlorinated polychlorobiphenyls (PCB), DDE, and DDT. The correlation between Cyp1A expression and OC content was observed across the whole temperature range (between -0.7 degrees C and +6.2 degrees C), but also in the absence of any thermal gradient. We concluded that airborne pollutants accumulate in high mountain lake fish at concentrations high enough to increase Cyp1A expression, among other possible effects. As geographical distribution of semi-volatile OC is strongly influenced by air temperatures, future climate modifications will potentially enhance their physiological effects in lake ecosystems.
The mortality rate (stillbirths and infant deaths) from anencephalus from 1950-1969 in 36 cities of over 50,000 population in Canada showed a negative association (r = -.39) with the concentration of magnesium in water sampled at domestic taps. The mortality rates showed negative associations with mean income and longitude, and a multiple regression model using the three factors showed significant effects of each and accounted for 69% of the intercity variation in rates. There were no significant associations seen with water calcium concentration or total hardness. Income, magnesium and longitude were also negatively associated with mortality rates from spina bifida, hydrocephalus, other congenital abnormalities, and total stillbirth and infant death rates, but the association with magnesium was significant only for total stillbirths. The negative association of anencephalus mortality and magnesium levels was also seen in a sample of 14 smaller towns in Ontario.
The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) is a system of ocean currents that has an essential role in Earth's climate, redistributing heat and influencing the carbon cycle1, 2. The AMOC has been shown to be weakening in recent years 1 ; this decline may reflect decadal-scale variability in convection in the Labrador Sea, but short observational datasets preclude a longer-term perspective on the modern state and variability of Labrador Sea convection and the AMOC1, 3-5. Here we provide several lines of palaeo-oceanographic evidence that Labrador Sea deep convection and the AMOC have been anomalously weak over the past 150 years or so (since the end of the Little Ice Age, LIA, approximately AD 1850) compared with the preceding 1,500 years. Our palaeoclimate reconstructions indicate that the transition occurred either as a predominantly abrupt shift towards the end of the LIA, or as a more gradual, continued decline over the past 150 years; this ambiguity probably arises from non-AMOC influences on the various proxies or from the different sensitivities of these proxies to individual components of the AMOC. We suggest that enhanced freshwater fluxes from the Arctic and Nordic seas towards the end of the LIA-sourced from melting glaciers and thickened sea ice that developed earlier in the LIA-weakened Labrador Sea convection and the AMOC. The lack of a subsequent recovery may have resulted from hysteresis or from twentieth-century melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet 6 . Our results suggest that recent decadal variability in Labrador Sea convection and the AMOC has occurred during an atypical, weak background state. Future work should aim to constrain the roles of internal climate variability and early anthropogenic forcing in the AMOC weakening described here.
Recent epidemiological studies conducted in Finland have reported a positive correlation between the mutagenicity of chlorinated drinking waters and certain human cancers. In these studies, past exposure to drinking water mutagenicity was assessed using a model developed by Vartiainen et al.  based on data collected in Finland. In this model, mutagenicity, as determined in the Ames assay, is a function of the total organic carbon (TOC) concentration of the water, chlorine dose, and to a minor extent, the concentration of ammonia. A study has been initiated to assess the applicability of this model to source waters and water treatment practices in the United States. Water samples were collected from three full-scale treatment plants and one pilot-scale plant. All the plants used chlorine exclusively for disinfection. One full-scale plant used ground water. Surface water sources were used by the other plants. TOC and ammonia concentrations were determined analytically and chlorine doses were obtained from the treatment plants. The water samples were concentrated by XAD resin adsorption for testing in the Ames assay. The observed levels of mutagenicity in the finished waters were 1.5 to 2-fold higher than those predicted using the model as specified in Vartiainen et al. . Consequently, further validation is needed prior to widespread use of the Finnish model to assess exposure to mutagenicity in chlorinated drinking waters in the United States.
People in the Arctic face uncertainty in their daily lives as they contend with environmental changes at a range of scales from local to global. Freshwater is a critical resource to people, and although water resource indicators have been developed that operate from regional to global scales and for midlatitude to equatorial environments, no appropriate index exists for assessing the vulnerability of Arctic communities to changing water resources at the local scale. The Arctic Water Resource Vulnerability Index (AWRVI) is proposed as a tool that Arctic communities can use to assess their relative vulnerability-resilience to changes in their water resources from a variety of biophysical and socioeconomic processes. The AWRVI is based on a social-ecological systems perspective that includes physical and social indicators of change and is demonstrated in three case study communities/watersheds in Alaska. These results highlight the value of communities engaging in the process of using the AWRVI and the diagnostic capability of examining the suite of constituent physical and social scores rather than the total AWRVI score alone.
We assessed the levels of arsenic in drilled wells in Finland and studied the association of arsenic exposure with the risk of bladder and kidney cancers. The study persons were selected from a register-based cohort of all Finns who had lived at an address outside the municipal drinking-water system during 1967-1980 (n = 144,627). The final study population consisted of 61 bladder cancer cases and 49 kidney cancer cases diagnosed between 1981 and 1995, as well as an age- and sex-balanced random sample of 275 subjects (reference cohort). Water samples were obtained from the wells used by the study population at least during 1967-1980. The total arsenic concentrations in the wells of the reference cohort were low (median = 0.1 microg/L; maximum = 64 microg/L), and 1% exceeded 10 microg/L. Arsenic exposure was estimated as arsenic concentration in the well, daily dose, and cumulative dose of arsenic. None of the exposure indicators was statistically significantly associated with the risk of kidney cancer. Bladder cancer tended to be associated with arsenic concentration and daily dose during the third to ninth years prior to the cancer diagnosis; the risk ratios for arsenic concentration categories 0.1-0.5 and [Greater/equal to] 0.5 microg/L relative to the category with
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Artificial sweeteners have been widely incorporated in human food products for aid in weight loss regimes, dental health protection and dietary control of diabetes. Some of these widely used compounds can pass non-degraded through wastewater treatment systems and are subsequently discharged to groundwater and surface waters. Measurements of artificial sweeteners in rivers used for drinking water production are scarce. In order to determine the riverine concentrations of artificial sweeteners and their usefulness as a tracer of wastewater at the scale of an entire watershed, we analyzed samples from 23 sites along the entire length of the Grand River, a large river in Southern Ontario, Canada, that is impacted by agricultural activities and urban centres. Municipal water from household taps was also sampled from several cities within the Grand River Watershed. Cyclamate, saccharin, sucralose, and acesulfame were found in elevated concentrations despite high rates of biological activity, large daily cycles in dissolved oxygen and shallow river depth. The maximum concentrations that we measured for sucralose (21 µg/L), cyclamate (0.88 µg/L), and saccharin (7.2 µg/L) are the highest reported concentrations of these compounds in surface waters to date anywhere in the world. Acesulfame persists at concentrations that are up to several orders of magnitude above the detection limit over a distance of 300 km and it behaves conservatively in the river, recording the wastewater contribution from the cumulative population in the basin. Acesulfame is a reliable wastewater effluent tracer in rivers. Furthermore, it can be used to assess rates of nutrient assimilation, track wastewater plume dilution, separate human and animal waste contributions and determine the relative persistence of emerging contaminants in impacted watersheds where multiple sources confound the usefulness of other tracers. The effects of artificial sweeteners on aquatic biota in rivers and in the downstream Great Lakes are largely unknown.
The Techa River was contaminated as a result of radioactive releases by the Mayak plutonium production facility in 1949-1956. The residents of riverside communities were exposed to internal irradiation from radionuclides ingested mainly with river water, and also to external gamma irradiation resulting from shoreline and flood-plain contamination. The most important role in population exposure was played by (89,90)Sr and 137Cs. The persons born after the onset of the contamination have been identified as the 'Techa River Offspring Cohort' (TROC). The TROC has the potential to provide direct data on health effects in progeny that resulted from exposure of a general population to chronic radiation. This report describes the results of the calculation of fetal doses due to intakes of radionuclides by their mothers. Particular attention has been given to fetal dose from 90Sr because this nuclide is the most significant in terms of population dose for the Techa River. The comparison of the fetal bone marrow doses evaluated using different approaches proposed in the literature has shown a large dispersal in dose values. The main cause of this is the difference in model assumptions simplifying some developmental aspects of fetal haematopoiesis and bone formation. This paper presents an analysis of these basic assumptions that could be useful for further improvements in fetal dosimetry.