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EPA Research: June 20, 2017

Summer Sampling Cruise on Lake Huron

This summer, EPA  researchers are taking nearshore samples in Lake Huron to better understand nutrient loading and food webs in the lake. The crew will sample water quality, plankton, and plankton DNA, and evaluate deep water habitat conditions using underwater video. The research event will be coordinated closely with Canada and the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and universities. 

This research is part of the Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative which focuses monitoring on a single Great Lake each year. This program supports United States’ commitment with Canada to maintain the physical, biological, and chemical integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes. Last year, EPA researchers took measurements on Lake Superior using the rosette sampler. Researchers are using the same sampling techniques on Lake Huron this summer. 

Do Our Genes Make Us More Sensitive to Air Pollution?

In a large study by EPA and Duke University, researchers identified several novel genes associated with coronary artery atherosclerosis in heart patients who have been exposed to traffic-related air pollution for a long time. Atherosclerosis results in plaque build-up in the arteries, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. The research adds to the large body of evidence that shows the link between air pollution near roadways and cardiovascular disease. While other studies have looked at the gene-air pollution connection, this is the first to examine the entire genome and its potential to respond to emissions from traffic. The article was published in the journal PLoS One. 

Read the journal article.

Exploring the Drivers Affecting Rural Drinking Water Quality

New EPA research examines the complex dynamics of corn production and nitrogen cycling in the U.S., and models future intensification of corn production and expansion into new regions.

The study is part of a larger effort to understand how nutrients like nitrogen move through the biosphere and affect the environment and our health. To address this complex question, EPA scientists developed the One Biosphere Modeling System. Researchers used the model to predict how nitrate, a common nitrogen-based fertilizer associated with adverse human health effects, might find its way into groundwater.

“For communities with concerns about nitrate contamination, our findings can serve as an initial screening tool to help identify possible contributing factors,” says Valerie Garcia, Ph.D., an EPA physical scientist and lead author on the study. 

Read the study here.