Fungal Micro-pollution in Water

agriculture, research, rivers

Molds, mushrooms, and yeasts – prevalent in all locales from the cracks of a sidewalk, in the forest, and sometimes even your refrigerator. At times, fungi have wonderful uses including yeasts for brewing beer or wine to the gastronomic delight of the rare white truffle. At other times, certain fungi will produce a substance toxic to living beings called Mycotoxins. Recently, research has found certain Mycotoxins (micro-pollution) originating from fungal outbreaks in food-crop fields will enter waterways through irrigation run-off, as noted in a review in Science Daily.

While some toxins in this family may weaken the immune system or act as an allergen, other toxins have no evident effect on humans. This study showed increased quantities of such micro-pollution in Swiss rivers, and indicated “a need for stronger monitoring and control of these overlooked micropollutants.” The report “Fusarium Mycotoxins: Overlooked Aquatic Micropollutants?” will be released on February 13, 2008 in the ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

By the way, this post reminds me of a favorite joke:

Why did the algae and and the fungus get married?

Well… they took a lichen to each other.

Holy River: Disease Fighting Water

india, international

Many in India look to the Ganges (Ganga) as a sacred river. The river is mentioned in early Hindu texts, and bathing in the river holds much religious significance. Millions partake in this ritual each year. With such numbers bathing in the river, it is unbelievable that diseases such as dysentery and cholera are not wide-spread. However, the Ganges carries abnormally high amounts of bateriophages which eliminate most water-borne illnesses before they are spread. The fourth report in a six-part series on Weekend Edition – NPR is a must listen.


Above Photo: thovie333 on flickr

Previous parts of the series on the Ganges in India include:

In Himalayas, Ganges Began with Divine Help

Pollution, Indifference Taint India’s Sacred River

Ganges’ Most Sacred Stretch Rich with Tradition

Three Gorges Dam: Displacement and Environmental Problems Acknowledged

asia, dam

Most have heard of the Three Gorges Dam (長江三峽大壩), a hydroelectric dam constructed in China to create a massive reservoir on the Yangtze River. The project when finished will flood an area of approximately 400 square miles. The dam, currently partially operational, is expected to be fully operational in 2009 after final generators are installed.

Above Photo: Mr Frosted on

A recent article distributed by the Associated Press on October 12, 2007, states many more individuals will have to move from the region by the year 2020.

The reservoir already has forced 1.4 million people out of their homes amid criticism the project has wreaked ecological havoc and forced people to move to places where they cannot make a living. On Friday, state media and the region’s local government signaled rising concern over the dam’s impact, saying as many as several million more people would have to be moved from areas adjacent to the reservoir in a form of “environmental migration.”

This recent announcement of an increase in displacement of citizens from the Yangtze region comes too soon after a report was issued in September 2007 highlighting major environmental problems caused by the dam including erosion, sedimentation, and possible water-quality problems.

This article, from the Guardian Unlimited in the UK, summarizes the dire statements made by public officials on environmental problems that could plague the area. However, as stated on Planet Ark, Chinese Officials are opposing these statements saying environmental effects were exaggerated by the media. The bad press is probably not such a good thing when you are trying to run a country. Check out the International Rivers Network webpage for more information about environmental issues and the Three Gorges Dam.