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Burken J.G.,Missouri University of Science and Technology | Vroblesky D.A.,U.S. Geological Survey | Balouet J.C.,Environment International
Environmental Science and Technology | Year: 2011

As plants evolved to be extremely proficient in mass transfer with their surroundings and survive as earth's dominant biomass, they also accumulate and store some contaminants from surroundings, acting as passive samplers. Novel applications and analytical methods have been utilized to gain information about a wide range of contaminants in the biosphere soil, water, and air, with information available on both past (dendrochemistry) and present (phytoscreening). Collectively these sampling approaches provide rapid, cheap, ecologically friendly, and overall "green" tools termed "Phytoforensics". © 2011 American Chemical Society.


The findings are published March 11 in the journal Environment International. Half of the seafood consumed by Americans is farmed. Fish farming, also known as aquaculture, is the fastest-growing food animal sector, outpacing the beef and poultry industries. While wild fish find their own food - which includes smaller fish for carnivorous species—intensively farmed fish are fed a manufactured aquaculture feed. Until recently, this manufactured feed was typically composed of high levels of fishmeal and fish oil derived from wild fish—but it has become unsustainable to catch more wild fish to feed growing numbers of farmed fish, so the industry has shifted the makeup of the feed. For example, twice as much soybean meal was used in commercial aquaculture feed in 2008 as compared to fishmeal, and the use of crop-based ingredients is projected to increase 124 percent between 2008 and 2020. "Farmed fish get their health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, from their feed, and specifically from fish oil," says study leader Jillian Fry, PhD, director of CLF's Public Health and Sustainable Aquaculture Project and a faculty member at the Bloomberg School. "Our review found that increasing plant-based ingredients can change the fatty acid content in farmed fish, which can affect human nutrition." The new study details the industry shift to crop-based feed ingredients, such as soy, corn, and wheat, to replace wild fish as a key ingredient in manufactured feed. The researchers—in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment and McGill University—reviewed aquaculture and public health literature, and conducted a new analysis to estimate the environmental footprint for the top five crops used in commercial aquaculture feed. The shift has been hailed by some as a positive change in light of the increasingly depleted oceans and the rapidly expanding aquaculture industry. But the shift may have some unintended consequences as well. Using vegetable oils instead of fish oil changes the fatty acid content of fish and nutritional value for human consumption, the researchers say. Considering Americans are encouraged to consume seafood high in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote improved cardiovascular health and neurodevelopment, this has large implications for dietary recommendations and the aquaculture industry. More research is needed, they say, to better understand the impact of this shift in feed on the health benefits of consuming farmed fish. While fish-based ingredients are seen as acutely limited, so are the resources such as land, water and fertilizer used to produce feed crops. Aquaculture's environmental footprint likely now includes increased nutrient and pesticide runoff from the industrial crop production needed to supply fish food. This runoff is a key driver of water pollution globally, and can negatively impact public health. Depending on where and how feed crops are produced, plant-based fish feed could be indirectly linked to negative health outcomes for agricultural workers and nearby communities due to exposure to air, water or soil contaminated by nutrients and/or pesticides. Fry says that these new findings may raise more questions than they answer. "The nutritional content of farmed fish should be monitored," Fry says. "The aquaculture industry should assess the environmental footprint and public health impacts of their crop-based feed ingredients and seek those produced using sustainable methods." Explore further: Scientists discover key to easing aquaculture's reliance on wild-caught fish More information: "Environmental Health Impacts of Feeding Crops to Farmed Fish" Environment International, 2016.


Balouet J.C.,Environment International | Burken J.G.,Missouri University of Science and Technology | Karg F.,HPC RandD Division | Vroblesky D.,U.S. Geological Survey | And 6 more authors.
Environmental Science and Technology | Year: 2012

Trees can take up and assimilate contaminants from the soil, subsurface, and groundwater. Contaminants in the transpiration stream can become bound or incorporated into the annual rings formed in trees of the temperate zones. The chemical analysis of precisely dated tree rings, called dendrochemistry, can be used to interpret past plant interactions with contaminants. This investigation demonstrates that dendrochemistry can be used to generate historical scenarios of past contamination of groundwater by chlorinated solvents at a site in Verl, Germany. Increment cores from trees at the Verl site were collected and analyzed by energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) line scanning. The EDXRF profiles showed four to six time periods where tree rings had anomalously high concentrations of chlorine (Cl) as an indicator of potential contamination by chlorinated solvents. © 2012 American Chemical Society.


Limmer M.A.,Missouri University of Science and Technology | Balouet J.-C.,Environment International | Karg F.,HPC Envirotec | Karg F.,HPC AG Group | And 2 more authors.
Environmental Science and Technology | Year: 2011

Rapid detection and delineation of contaminants in urban settings is critically important in protecting human health. Cores from trees growing above a plume of contaminated groundwater in Verl, Germany, were collected in 1 day, with subsequent analysis and plume mapping completed over several days. Solid-phase microextraction (SPME) analysis was applied to detect tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) to below nanogram/liter levels in the transpiration stream of the trees. The tree core concentrations showed a clear areal correlation to the distribution of PCE and TCE in the groundwater. Concentrations in tree cores were lower than the underlying groundwater, as anticipated; however, the tree core water retained the PCE:TCE signature of the underlying groundwater in the urban, populated area. The PCE:TCE ratio can indicate areas of differing degradation activity. Therefore, the phytoscreening analysis was capable not only of mapping the spatial distribution of groundwater contamination but also of delineating zones of potentially differing contaminant sources and degradation. The simplicity of tree coring and the ability to collect a large number of samples in a day with minimal disruption or property damage in the urban setting demonstrates that phytoscreening can be a powerful tool for gaining reconnaissance-level information on groundwater contaminated by chlorinated solvents. The use of SPME decreases the detection level considerably and increases the sensitivity of phytoscreening as an assessment, monitoring, and phytoforensic tool. With rapid, inexpensive, and noninvasive methods of detecting and delineating contaminants underlying homes, as in this case, human health can be better protected through screening of broader areas and with far faster response times. © 2011 American Chemical Society.


Smith K.T.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Balouet J.C.,Environment International | Shortle W.C.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Chalot M.,University of Franche Comte | And 5 more authors.
Chemosphere | Year: 2014

Energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) provides highly sensitive and precise spatial resolution of cation content in individual annual growth rings in trees. The sensitivity and precision have prompted successful applications to forensic dendrochemistry and the timing of environmental releases of contaminants. These applications have highlighted the need to distinguish dendrochemical effects of internal processes from environmental contamination. Calcium, potassium, and zinc are three marker cations that illustrate the influence of these processes. We found changes in cation chemistry in tree rings potentially due to biomineralization, development of cracks or checks, heartwood/sapwood differentiation, intra-annual processes, and compartmentalization of infection. Distinguishing internal from external processes that affect dendrochemistry will enhance the value of EDXRF for both physiological and forensic investigations. © 2013.

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