Daily Archives: December 3, 2014

Neptunium in Nevada Groundwater

Zhao P, Tinnacher RM, Zavarin M, Kersting AB. Analysis of trace neptunium in the vicinity of underground nuclear tests at the Nevada National Security Site. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity. 2014 Nov;137:163-72. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2014.07.011.

A high sensitivity analytical method for (237)Np analysis was developed and applied to groundwater samples from the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) using short-lived (239)Np as a yield tracer and HR magnetic sector ICP-MS. The (237)Np concentrations in the vicinity of the Almendro, Cambric, Dalhart, Cheshire, and Chancellor underground nuclear test locations range from <4 × 10(-4) to 2.6 mBq/L (6 × 10(-17)-4.2 × 10(-13) mol/L). All measured (237)Np concentrations are well below the drinking water maximum contaminant level for alpha emitters identified by the U.S. EPA (560 mBq/L). Nevertheless, (237)Np remains an important indicator for radionuclide transport rates at the NNSS. Retardation factor ratios were used to compare the mobility of (237)Np to that of other radionuclides. The results suggest that (237)Np is less mobile than tritium and other non-sorbing radionuclides ((14)C, (36)Cl, (99)Tc and (129)I) as expected. Surprisingly, (237)Np and plutonium ((239,240)Pu) retardation factors are very similar. It is possible that Np(IV) exists under mildly reducing groundwater conditions and exhibits a retardation behavior that is comparable to Pu(IV). Independent of the underlying process, (237)Np is migrating downgradient from NNSS underground nuclear tests at very low but measureable concentrations.

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Municipal Drinking Water in Coral Harbour, Nunavut, Canada

Daley K, Castleden H, Jamieson R, Furgal C, Ell L. Municipal water quantities and health in Nunavut households: an exploratory case study in Coral Harbour, Nunavut, Canada. International Journal of Circumpolar Health. 2014 Mar 28;73:1-10. doi: 10.3402/ijch.v73.23843.

BACKGROUND: Access to adequate quantities of water has a protective effect on human health and well-being. Despite this, public health research and interventions are frequently focused solely on water quality, and international standards for domestic water supply minimums are often overlooked or unspecified. This trend is evident in Inuit and other Arctic communities even though numerous transmissible diseases and bacterium infections associated with inadequate domestic water quantities are prevalent.

OBJECTIVES: Our objective was to explore the pathways by which the trucked water distribution systems being used in remote northern communities are impacting health at the household level, with consideration given to the underlying social and environmental determinants shaping health in the region.

METHODS: Using a qualitative case study design, we conducted 37 interviews (28 residents, 9 key informants) and a review of government water documents to investigate water usage practices and perspectives. These data were thematically analysed to understand potential health risks in Arctic communities and households.

RESULTS: Each resident receives an average of 110 litres of municipal water per day. Fifteen of 28 households reported experiencing water shortages at least once per month. Of those 15, most were larger households (5 people or more) with standard sized water storage tanks. Water shortages and service interruptions limit the ability of some households to adhere to public health advice. The households most resilient, or able to cope with domestic water supply shortages, were those capable of retrieving their own drinking water directly from lake and river sources. Residents with extended family and neighbours, whom they can rely on during shortages, were also less vulnerable to municipal water delays.

CONCLUSIONS: The relatively low in-home water quantities observed in Coral Harbour, Nunavut, appear adequate for some families. Those living in overcrowded households, however, are accessing water in quantities more typically seen in water insecure developing countries. We recommend several practical interventions and revisions to municipal water supply systems.

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Surface Water Pollution in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Wilbers GJ, Becker M, Nga LT, Sebesvari Z, Renaud FG. Spatial and temporal variability of surface water pollution in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam. The Science of the Total Environment. 2014 Jul 1;485-486:653-65. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.03.049.

Surface water pollution in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta (MD) could threaten human, animal and ecosystem health given the fact that this water source is intensively used for drinking, irrigation and domestic services. We therefore determined the levels of pollution by organic pollutants, salts, metals and microbial indicators by (bi)monthly monitoring of canals between November 2011 and July 2012 at 32 sampling locations, representing fresh and saline/brackish environments. The results were compared with national water quality guidelines, between the studied regions and with water quality data from main waterways. Key factors explaining the observed levels of pollution in surface water were identified through principal component analysis (PCA). Temporal variations due to tidal regime and seasonality were also assessed. Based on regression models, the spatial variability of five water quality parameters was visualized using GIS based maps. Results indicate that pH (max. 8.6), turbidity (max. 461 FTU), maximum concentrations of ammonium (14.7 mg L(-1)), arsenic (44.1 μg L(-1)), barium (157.5 μg L(-1)), chromium (84.7 μg L(-1)), mercury (45.5 μg L(-1)), manganese (1659.7 μg L(-1)), aluminum (14.5 mg L(-1)), iron (17.0 mg L(-1)) and the number of Escherichia coli (87,000 CFU 100 mL(-1)) and total coliforms (2,500,000 CFU 100 mL(-1)) in canals exceed the thresholds set by Vietnamese quality guidelines for drinking and domestic purposes. The PCA showed that i) urbanization; ii) metal leaching from soils; iii) aquaculture; and iv) tidal regime explain 85% of the variance of surface water quality attributes. Significant differences in water quality were found due to daily tidal regime and as a result of seasonality. Surface water quality maps for dissolved oxygen, ammonium, ortho-phosphate, manganese and total coliforms were developed to highlight hot-spot areas of pollution. The results of this study can assist policy makers in developing water management strategies and drinking water companies in selecting optimum water extraction locations.

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Assessment of Inhalation Exposure to Legionella

Hines SA, Chappie DJ, Lordo RA, Miller BD, Janke RJ, Lindquist HA, Fox KR, Ernst HS, Taft SC.Assessment of relative potential for Legionella species or surrogates inhalation exposure from common water uses. Water Research 2014 Jun 1;56:203-13. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2014.02.013.

The Legionella species have been identified as important waterborne pathogens in terms of disease morbidity and mortality. Microbial exposure assessment is a tool that can be utilized to assess the potential of Legionella species inhalation exposure from common water uses. The screening-level exposure assessment presented in this paper developed emission factors to model aerosolization, quantitatively assessed inhalation exposures of aerosolized Legionella species or Legionella species surrogates while evaluating two generalized levels of assumed water concentrations, and developed a relative ranking of six common in-home uses of water for potential Legionella species inhalation exposure. Considerable variability in the calculated exposure dose was identified between the six identified exposure pathways, with the doses differing by over five orders of magnitude in each of the evaluated exposure scenarios. The assessment of exposure pathways that have been epidemiologically associated with legionellosis transmission (ultrasonic and cool mist humidifiers) produced higher estimated inhalation exposure doses than pathways where epidemiological evidence of transmission has been less strong (faucet and shower) or absent (toilets and therapy pool). With consideration of the large uncertainties inherent in the exposure assessment process used, a relative ranking of exposure pathways from highest to lowest exposure doses was produced using culture-based measurement data and the assumption of constant water concentration across exposure pathways. In this ranking, the ultrasonic and cool mist humidifier exposure pathways were estimated to produce the highest exposure doses, followed by the shower and faucet exposure pathways, and then the toilet and therapy pool exposure pathways.

Click here for the paper (fee).