Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2014PA214B

Emerging Contaminants in Vernal Ponds Across a Human Impact Gradient

Institute: Pennsylvania
Year Established: 2014 Start Date: 2014-04-15 End Date: 2015-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $1 Total Non-Federal Funds: $37,075

Principal Investigators: Heather Gall

Abstract: In the United States, the number of chemicals produced has tripled from 1941 to 1995, with 80,000 chemicals currently in use. These products bring benefits along with concerns for human and environmental health. Among these products is a class of compounds generally referred to as “emerging contaminants” (ECs), which includes hormones, pharmaceuticals and personal care products. The fate, transport, and risks associated with these contaminants are not well understood and therefore their presence in water bodies is currently not regulated. Many of these compounds are known or suspected endocrine disruptors; however, their concentrations in vernal ponds, habitat critical to amphibian populations, have never been studied. Degraded water quality is currently threatening amphibian populations worldwide and therefore it is critical to understand how the presence of ECs may be impacting native amphibians. This project will collect pilot data to: (i) link the occurrence of ECs in vernal ponds with land use; (ii) quantify water level variability in vernal ponds to better understand EC fate and transport; and (iii) determine if native amphibians are affected by, and have adapted to cope with, the presence of “cocktails” of multiple contaminants in vernal ponds. Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment provided non-federal funding for this interdisciplinary research project, via the Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center.