State Water Resources Research Institute Program (WRRI)

Details for Project ID 2008LA59B, 2009

Field Monitoring of Environmental Contaminants of Toxic Metals in Lake Pontchartrain and Ground Water

Institute: Louisiana
Start Date: 2008-03-01 End Date: 2009-08-30
Total Federal Funds: $16,796 Total Non-Federal Funds: $35,540

Principal Investigators: Ju Chou

Abstract: Toxic metal exposure, especially lead and arsenic, in New Orleans increased after Katrina. Lead, a ubiquitous and versatile metal, is considered a significant environmental threat in the global region. Even at low levels of lead exposure, there are serious side effects including kidney damage, learning disabilities, and brain damage, especially in children. Arsenic and its compounds are mobile in the environment. They enter the arsenic cycle as dust or by dissolution in rain, rivers, or groundwater. So contamination by arsenic is a serious threat to mankind all over the world. The concentrations of lead and arsenic detected in many samples exceeded EPA drinking water standards in New Orleans. Environmental threats from lead and arsenic are a serious problem in the New Orleans area. For many years, Lake Pontchartrain has been a sink for environmental contamination primarily because it receives all the drainage from New Orleans industry and populations during rainfall events. The contaminations in New Orleans will eventually contaminate Lake Pontchartrain and its natural habitat. Thus it is important to regularly monitor lead and arsenic concentrations in Lake Pontchartrain. The overall objectives are to conduct an environmental assessment and to identify public health threats caused by exposure to environmental contaminants such as lead and arsenic. Regular monitoring hazardous lead and arsenic will provide information not only on environmental impact of hurricane Katrina for the long term but also on environmental impact of future storms. The research will focus on detection of environmental contaminant metals mainly lead and arsenic in Lake Pontchartrain. A novel portable instrument called Element Presence Detector (EPD) will be employed for on-site, real-time analysis of water in Lake Pontchartrain. Urban activities, weather patterns, seasonal changes, and spatial patterns on environmental exposure to toxic metals will be investigated as well.