Enhance and Protect America's Natural Resources

Preserving Our Resources for Future Generations

An Approach to Manage and Mitigate Stormwater in Metropolitan Nashville/Davidson County, TN

Fate and Remediation of Emerging Contaminants (Pharmaceuticals, Antimony, and Tungsten) in the Environment

Coupling Phytoremediation with Grasses to Fly Ash Cleanup and Biofuel Feedstock Production

Impacts of Past and Current Land Uses on Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) Occupancy and Disease Prevalence in Tennessee: Implications for Conservation of High-Quality Watersheds

Occurrence of Pharmaceuticals and Personal care Products (PPCPs) in Aquatic Environment in Middle Tennessee Sub Watersheds
 


An Approach to Manage and Mitigate Stormwater in Metropolitan Nashville/Davidson County, TN
Dr. De'etra Young
This project seeks to build an integration of research and extension utilizing multiple stakeholders to mitigate and manage stormwater in Davidson County, TN with particular emphasis on bioretention basins. The project will take a multiple-phased approach to examine stormwater quality by examining BMPs, developing hydrological and water quality models for urban forestry and water quality. Findings from our integrated research will build a blueprint for local municipalities to follow.


Fate and Remediation of Emerging Contaminants (Pharmaceuticals, Antimony, and Tungsten) in the Environment
Dr. Sudipta Rakshit
Modern world is faced with various environmental challenges due to growing population and the need for advanced technology which caused over-exploitation of natural resources and introduction of new chemical substances to the environment that are not yet designated as pollutants. These 'emerging contaminants' are poorly studied, unregulated and have suspected properties that are detrimental to human and ecological health. Here I propose to study three major "emerging contaminants":  antibiotics, antimony, and tungsten. These contaminants have reported toxicological properties towards either human or the ecosystems. I plan to undertake a comprehensive approach to understand the behavior of these pollutants in the environment.  Laboratory-scale wetchemical, spectroscopic, and surface complexation modeling approaches will be used to decipher the molecular mechanisms of the interactions of these contaminants with environmental surfaces. After the comprehensive understanding, a risk-assessment guideline will be developed to address the major issues.

Coupling Phytoremediation with Grasses to Fly Ash Cleanup and Biofuel Feedstock Production
Dr. Emmanuel Dzantor
This project addresses national and global concerns about environmental pollution and energy security.  Coal accounts for 42% of the electricity generation in the US. Burning coal to generate electricity produces large amounts of coal combustion wastes, CCW.  Coal combustion wastes can contain toxic substances that are linked to cancers, neurological and birth defects in humans. Nearly sixty percent of CCW generated annually in the US is composed of very fine materials known as fly ash, FA.  Currently, FAs are generally stored in massive wet ash ponds, or they are shipped to designated landfills. The historic Kingston TN Fly Ash Spill of 2008 was caused by failure of the containments at such wet ponds at the Tennessee Valley Authority coal plant.  One reason for failures of containment systems is the old age. The site of the Kingston ash release has accumulated ash sludge since 1952. An urgent need exists to address disposal of FA. Well recognized, biologically based strategies collectively called bioremediation and phytoremediation, using microbes and plant systems, respectively, currently exist for cleaning up a broad range of wastes. However, they have not been systematically evaluated for FA disposals because FAs are not classified as wastes according to US solid waste regulations. This project seeks to extend bio- and phytoremediation to cleaning up FA contaminations. Our own programs have long studied and implemented these strategies for mitigating land degradation using native grasses such as switchgrass, eastern gamagrass, big bluestem and Indian grass. These grasses can be used this way because of their high biomass productivity even under harsh conditions. The same grasses are at the forefront of the current intense debates on bioenergy as one strategy for reducing global dependence on petroleum fuels. Accordingly, our current project will not only clean up environmental pollution by FA but also, biomass produced during the process will be used as feedstock for biofuel production. Despite their reputation as sources of hazardous chemicals, FAs also contain major and trace elements that are essential for plant growth. Additionally, they can improve water retention and storage characteristics of soils when they are used as amendments for plant growth. Beneficial utilization of FA as soil amendment has been thoroughly documented by investigators from India, the greatest FA producer in the world. In that country, FAs have been used to grow a variety of food crops including rice, corn, legumes and sugar cane. Such use of FA has been proposed in the US, the third largest producer of FA, but less than one percent of the product is used in this way. This may be changing. According to the USDA Deputy Administrator, wise management of CCWs by industry and new beneficial uses will minimize the quantities of CCWs that must be disposed of and sequestered long-term in landfills and impoundment ponds. Our project to turn waste to energy feedstock production is an emerging strategy in the current focus on energy security and environmental sustainability.


Impacts of Past and Current Land Uses on Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) Occupancy and Disease Prevalence in Tennessee: Implications for Conservation of High-Quality Watersheds
Dr. William Sutton
Anthropogenic habitat disturbances represent one of the greatest challenges to long-term conservation of native species and habitats. Although urbanization is commonly identified as the primary causative factor behind the loss of native habitats and biodiversity, conversion via other anthropogenic uses, including agriculture, also serve as a primary stressor to these landscapes. It is estimated globally that cropland or permanent pasture already covers more than half of all agriculturally suitable land, while temporary grazing or degraded/inactive farming operations account for a considerable amount of the remainder. Furthermore, production-scale agriculture has been implicated in declines of a greater number of imperiled organisms than any other anthropogenic disturbance.  In addition to direct impacts to the landscape, anthropogenic disturbances often cause additional environmental impacts,  including declines in water quality. The objectives of our study is to use the Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis),  which is a large (up to 2 feet total length) fully aquatic salamander native to the eastern United States. This species, which is declining rapidly throughout its entire geographic range, is highly dependent on well-oxygenated, free-flowing, high-quality aquatic environments and therefore serves as an excellent indicator of environmental quality. We will use C. alleganiensis as a model organism to identify areas of high water quality throughout the state of Tennessee. Results from our study will provide managers and conservation agencies with a mechanism to identify landscapes of high conservation concern. Ultimately our data have the potential to increase protection and conservation of high quality landscapes and watersheds throughout the state of Tennessee.

Occurrence of Pharmaceuticals and Personal care Products (PPCPs) in Aquatic Environment in Middle Tennessee Sub Watersheds  
Dr. Sam Dennis
Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) have become important chemicals of emerging concern in surface and ground water resources. They have been shown to be relatively stable in an aquatic environment and may negatively impact aquatic ecosystems. On a national and regional scale, pharmaceutical drugs that are detected include steroids, prescription, and over the counter drugs such as antibiotics, anti-depressants, anti-inflammatory drugs, including both human and farm animals' hormonal drugs. Their concentration ranges from parts per trillion to parts per billion in sewage treatment plants effluent and surface water environment especially around outfall discharges. It is noteworthy that many of these chemicals are suspected or are potential endocrine-disrupting chemicals, as well as having the potential for adverse environmental effects. While water is a renewable resource, it is also a finite resource; hence both water quality and quantity are very important for human health and ecosystem sustainability. Our central hypothesis is that the incidence of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in surface water in urban and rural watersheds exist, partly due to catchment land uses and outfall discharges. Certainly studies of these chemicals in water bodies in Middle Tennessee rural and urbanizing watersheds are minimal.

 

 

 

 

 








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