Joint 52nd Northeastern Annual Section / 51st North-Central Annual Section Meeting - 2017

Paper No. 38-23
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


COOK, Zachary B., Department of Geology, Augustana College, Rock Island, IL 61201,

Heavy metal contamination in water has been an environmental issue for decades. With the increase of industrialization, the amount of toxic emissions increases as well. In addition to multiple negative impacts on the environment, contaminated water can become a major health hazard for humans. China has had a rapid increase in industrialization in recent decades that has led to an associated increase in pollution in the world’s second largest economy. In addition, an increasing population puts many at risk for health issues and pushes China to acknowledge and seek solutions to reduce its pollution. To gain a better understanding of the extent of China’s contaminated water, 105 samples were gathered throughout ten cities each with different populations and geographic characteristics. Water samples were collected from natural sources, i.e., lakes, rivers, streams, and rainwater puddles. Samples were not collected from tap water sources to avoid possible contamination leached from the pipes. Through X-Ray spectroscopy, the water samples, dried onto microcarry filter papers, were analyzed for lead and mercury. With these data, it is possible to determine correlations based on location. Concentrations of both metals in all locations were much lower than originally hypothesized, with the highest concentration peaking at only 14 ppm for lead and 8 ppm for mercury. However, locations with a smaller population and larger population densities were found to have the highest concentration of lead in their water. While low amounts of lead and mercury indicate an improvement on pollution released in China, any amount of lead and mercury found in the environment can be a potential health hazard for the citizens of China.