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Heavy Metal Contamination of Hand-Pressed Well Water in HuNan, China

Long et al. | Oct 20, 2019

Heavy Metal Contamination of Hand-Pressed Well Water in HuNan, China

Unprocessed water from hand-pressed wells is still commonly used as a source of drinking water in Chenzhou, the “Nonferrous Metal Village” of China. Long et al. conducted a study to measure the heavy metal contamination levels and potential health effects in this area. Water samples were analyzed through Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICPOES) and the concentrations of 20 metal elements. Results showed that although none of the samples had dangerous levels of heavy metals, the concentrations of Al, Fe, and Mn in many locations substantially exceeded those suggested in the Chinese Drinking Water Standard and the maximum contaminant levels of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The authors have made an important discovery regarding the water safety in HuNan and their suggestions to install water treatment systems would greatly benefit the community.

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Repulsion of Ants Using Non-Toxic Household Products

Ambati et al. | Sep 10, 2019

Repulsion of Ants Using Non-Toxic Household Products

Ant invasion causes damage exceeding $5 billion annually in North America. In this study, Ambati and Duvvuri aim to identify natural products with ant-repelling properties using a custom ring apparatus designed to quantify ant-repellence. They report that cinnamon and lemon were the most effective ant repellents of the tested products. These data suggest that compounds found in non-toxic household products, such as cinnamon oil and lemon juice, could be used in low-dose combinations as potent, effective, eco-friendly, and safe ant repellents.

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An Analysis of Soil Microhabitats in Revolutionary War, Civil War, and Modern Graveyards on Long Island, NY

Caputo et al. | May 05, 2019

An Analysis of Soil Microhabitats in Revolutionary War, Civil War, and Modern Graveyards on Long Island, NY

Previously established data indicate that cemeteries have contributed to groundwater and soil pollution, as embalming fluids can impact the microbiomes that exist in decomposing remains. In this study, Caputo et al hypothesized that microbial variation would be high between cemeteries from different eras due to dissimilarities between embalming techniques employed, and furthermore, that specific microbes would act as an indication for certain contaminants. Overall, they found that there is a variation in the microbiomes of the different eras’ cemeteries according to the concentrations of the phyla and their more specific taxa.

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A Taste of Sweetness in Bioplastics

Tsai et al. | Apr 05, 2019

A Taste of Sweetness in Bioplastics

Sweet potatoes are one of the most common starches in Taiwan, and sweet potato peels hold significant potential to make biodegradable plastics which can alleviate the environmental impact of conventional petroleum-based plastics. In this paper, Tsai et al created starch-based bioplastics derived from sweet potato peels and manipulated the amount of added glycerol to alter the plastic’s strength and flexibility properties. Their results indicated that higher concentrations of glycerol yield more malleable plastics, providing insights into how recycled agricultural waste material might be used to slow down the rate of pollution caused by widespread production of conventional plastics.

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Performance of Panicum virgatum cultivars in competition with Bromus inermis and differing amounts of N fertilizer

Ferris et al. | Mar 04, 2019

Performance of Panicum virgatum cultivars in competition with Bromus inermis and differing amounts of N fertilizer

With growing demands for ethanol, many researchers are turning to Panicum virgatum (switchgrass) as a feedstock of cellulosic ethanol. In this study, Ferris and Gillan examine the germination, biomass, nitrogen, survival, and chlorophyll absorbance of two switchgrass cultivars of grown in competition with Bromus inermis (smooth brome) with two varying levels of nitrogen fertilizer. Results presented indicate that during establishment, competition from other species has a greater effect than nitrogen fertilizer.

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A Quantitative Analysis of the Proliferation of Microplastics in Williamston’s Waterways

Schafer et al. | Feb 17, 2019

A Quantitative Analysis of the Proliferation of Microplastics in Williamston’s Waterways

Plastic debris can disrupt marine ecosystems, spread contaminants, and take years to naturally degrade. In this study, Wu et al aim to establish an understanding of the scope of Williamston, Michigan’s microplastics problem, as well as to attempt to find the source of these plastics. Initially, the authors hypothesize that the Williamston Wastewater Treatment Plant was the primary contributor to Williamston’s microplastics pollution. Although they find a general trend of increasing concentrations of microplastics from upstream to downstream, they do not pinpoint the source of Williamston’s microplastics pollution in the present research.

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Androgen Diffusion Patterns in Soil: Potential Watershed Impacts

Corson et al. | Jan 24, 2019

Androgen Diffusion Patterns in Soil: Potential Watershed Impacts

Androgens are natural or synthetic steroid hormones that control secondary male sex characteristics. Androgens are excreted in cattle urine and feces, and can run off or seep into nearby waters, negatively impacting aquatic life and potentially polluting human water sources. Here, the authors investigated the effectiveness of soil as a natural barrier against androgen flow into vulnerable waterways. Their results, obtained by testing diffusion patterns of luminol, an androgen chemical analog, indicated that soil is a poor barrier to androgen diffusion.

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The Effects of Post-Consumer Waste Polystyrene on the Rate of Mealworm Consumption

Green et al. | Nov 29, 2018

The Effects of Post-Consumer Waste Polystyrene on the Rate of Mealworm Consumption

In a world where plastic waste accumulation is threatening both land and sea life, Green et al. investigate the ability of mealworms to breakdown polystyrene, a non-recyclable form of petrochemical-based polymer we use in our daily lives. They confirm that these organisms, can degrade various forms of polystyrene, even after it has been put to use in our daily lives. Although the efficiency of the degradation process still requires improvement, the good news is, the worms are tiny and themselves are biodegradable, so we can use plenty of them without worrying about space and how to get rid of them. This is very promising and certainly good news for the planet.

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Using DNA Barcodes to Evaluate Ecosystem Health in the SWRCMS Reserve

Horton et al. | Sep 27, 2018

Using DNA Barcodes to Evaluate Ecosystem Health in the SWRCMS Reserve

Although the United States maintains millions of square kilometers of nature reserves to protect the biodiversity of the specimens living there, little is known about how confining these species within designated protected lands influences the genetic variation required for a healthy population. In this study, the authors sequenced genetic barcodes of insects from a recently established nature reserve, the Southwestern Riverside County Multi-Species Reserve (SWRCMSR), and a non-protected area, the Mt. San Jacinto College (MSJC) Menifee campus, to compare the genetic variation between the two populations. Their results demonstrated that the midge fly population from the SWRCMSR had fewer unique DNA barcode sequence changes than the MSJC population, indicating that the comparatively younger nature reserve's population had likely not yet established its own unique genetic drift changes.

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Increasing Average Yearly Temperature in Two U.S. Cities Shows Evidence for Climate Change

Savage et al. | Sep 20, 2018

Increasing Average Yearly Temperature in Two U.S. Cities Shows Evidence for Climate Change

The authors were interested in whether they could observe the effects of climate change by analyzing historical temperature data of two U.S. cities. They predicted that they should observe a warming trend in both cities. Their results showed that despite yearly variations, warming trends can be observed both in Rochester, NY and Seattle, WA which fit the predictions of climate change forecasts.

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