Nature Awareness #6

Briefly describe the major sources of air and water pollution in your area, what the biggest source of pollution in your area is, and what impact it has. (minimum 100 words)

One of the challenges in interpreting what the biggest threat of pollution in my area is, is the biggest source may not pose the biggest threat. You have to consider how and what the source of pollution comes in contact with, and the type of impact it has.

As far as water quality is concerned, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection released in its 2010 report that in April 2007 they completed a 10 year review of the wadeable water systems throughout Pennsylvania. The two largest problems found were agriculture and abandoned mine drainage. And the largest stressors were siltation and metals. However, they emphasize that other problems should not be minimized because they may impact the local environment differently. They provide an example of urban runoff/stormsewers being a minor problem in rural areas but major in metropolitan regions.

In addition to this report, they monitor the flesh of fish for possible contaminants, and inform the public through fish advisories when the need arises. The current advisory level is to limit PA fish consumption to once per week due to unknown contaminants.

While looking up air pollution monitoring, it’s clear that the highest rating of “Ozone PPD (Biglerville)” is just around noon when the sun is at its highest peak in the sky, and at its lowest just before dawn before the sun comes up. This makes perfect logical sense.

According to the 2007 Pennsylvania Ambient Air Quality Report (the latest available), the state of Pennsylvania keeps a spread of 207 different air quality monitors around the state to monitor six different air pollutants regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Those six pollutants are sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO),lead (Pb), Ozone (O3), and particulate matter (PM). Of those six, O3 and PM have been a consistent problem, while the remaining pollutants have stayed below the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

The EPA also keeps a “Toxic Release Inventory” that allows you to search by zip code to find out what toxic chemical releases and waste management activities have been reported in your area within the last year. My particular zip code showed a series of mineral toxins in three separate facilities from a local mill, a tile plant, and an elevator company. These toxins released amounted to several thousand pounds with of minerals reported, but several results left empty denoting several more unaccounted for.

It’s very difficult to say from these two assessments which is the bigger threat to the local environment. I don’t know the affects that air pollution has had on the water and fish, just as much as no one knows what affect water evaporation and the chemicals therein have had on the air pollution.

I would chance it to say that water and fish are more directly consumed into our bodies and filtered through our organs, whereas air pollutants can and will travel at loftier heights and distances and the potency would vary depending on local foliage and their ability to filtrate the air quality. The issue of mineral pollutants is also more likely a threat to water than it is to air. In fact I read an article in the news the other day down in Fort Detrick about the threat of Agent Orange in the ground water in Frederick Maryland where I work.

Since this area of Pennsylvania is so heavily forested, meaning more protected from air pollutants, it is my assumption that the water pollution is more of a direct threat to people in the Gettysburg area.

(Word Count: 591)

9 News Now, “Contaminated Landfills Capped At Ft. Detrick”. July 23, 2010 <>.

“Integrated Water Quality Report – 2010”. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. July 29, 2010 <>.

“Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program”. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. July 29, 2010 <>.

“Pennsylvania Ambient Air Quality Report”. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. July 29, 2010 <>.

“Principal Pollutants Monitoring Sites”. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. July 29, 2010 <>.

“Ambient Air Monitoring Data Reports”. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. July 29, 2010 <>.

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