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The CURA publications library is currently being digitized by the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy. When the project is complete, the entire CURA publications library will be online and fully searchable. Unfortunately, during this process we are not able to honor individual requests for publications . Additionally, we no longer have physical copies of publications to send out.

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Glacial Sediment Causing Regional-Scale Elevated Arsenic in Drinking Water.

Erickson, Melinda L., and Randal J. Barnes.

In the upper Midwest, elevated arsenic concentrations in public drinking water systems are associated with the lateral extent of northwest provenance late Wisconsin-aged drift. Twelve percent of public water systems located within the footprint of this drift (212 of 1764) exceed 10 micrograms per liter of arsenic, which is the U.S. EPA's drinking water standard. Outside of the footprint, only 2.4% of public water systems (52 of 2182) exceed 10 micrograms per liter of arsenic. Both glacial drift aquifers and shallow bedrock aquifers overlain by northwest provenance late Wisconsin-aged sediment are affected by arsenic contamination. Evidence suggests that the distinct physical characteristics of northwest provenance late Wisconsin-aged driftラits fine-grained matrix and entrained organic carbon that fosters biological activityラcause the geochemical conditions necessary to mobilize arsenic via reductive mechanisms such as reductive desorption and reductive dissolution of metal oxides. This study highlights an important and often unrecognized phenomenon: high-arsenic sediment is not necessary to cause arsenic-impacted ground water when 'impacted' is now defined as greater than 10 micrograms per liter. This analysis also demonstrates the scientific and economic value of using existing large but imperfect statewide data sets to observe and characterize regional-scale environmental problems.

Ground Water 43 (5)
Publication date: 
Westerville, OH: National Ground Water Association.
Funded in part by a grant from CURA's Faculty Interactive Research Program.
43 (5): 1-10.
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