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2015 Abstracts

Quantifying Heavy Metal Pollution in Utah Lake via Root System Accumulation in Two Subspecies of Phragmites Australis and Subsequent Determination of Anthropogenic Relevance

Kevin Jackman, Utah Valley University

Physical Sciences

Phragmites australis is a non-native subspecies of wetland reed that was introduced to Utah Lake from Europe during early exploratory settlements and is now outcompeting native flora in the lake’s wetland ecosystem. Utah Lake is a repository for toxic heavy metals from diverse mining operations and industrial operations proximal to the water. International studies have shown Phragmites to have strong potential as a phytoremediator and a reliable biomonitoring species of polluted water and soil, yet no work in this regard has ever been performed in the state of Utah or on Utah Lake. It is by measuring the concentrations of arsenic, lead, and 12 other trace metals within the root and rhizome system of these plants that a measurement of the contamination of the lake can be made, and to determine a quantitative concentration and severity of contamination with regards to public health and safety. If these trace metals are present in excess in the lake and its soils, toxic, and harmful conditions are present and are an issue of health to the natural ecosystem of the lake, as well as the citizens recreating and working throughout the lake on a regular basis. Determination of atomic content evaluation will be performed by the Induced Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometer. Future work can then be proposed to remediate the lake, in an effort to improve the human and environmental condition of the area. This project has the interest of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality and relationships have been established for current and future cooperation. The aim of this project is to be published and presented on a peer-reviewed level in scientific journals and at conferences.