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1998 Spotlight on Graduate and Undergraduate Research at ESF
Environmental Science Abstracts

Contents

LEAD POISONING IN SYRACUSE, NY: AN ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGE.  Jennifer K. Bretsch, David L. Johnson, and William Johnson.

SPATIAL MODELING OF CLIMATE AND PHOTOSYNTHESIS IN THE LUQUILLO MOUNTAINS, PUERTO RICO. David Marley and Charles Hall.

AN ENERGY-BASED MODEL OF THE COSTA RICAN INDUSTRIAL EXPORT SECTOR. Timm Kroeger and Charles A.S. Hall.

RESOURCE, ENERGY, AND WASTE METABOLISM OF THE US ECONOMY. Jae-Young Ko.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF A DIETARY EXPOSURE MODEL FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATES: A CADMIUM CASE STUDY. Tricia Lockwood, James M. Hassett, and Gary Diamond, Syracuse Research Corporation.


Abstracts

LEAD POISONING IN SYRACUSE, NY: AN ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGE.  Jennifer K. Bretsch, Faculty of Environmental Science, 107 Marshall Hall, David L. Johnson, Faculty of Chemistry, 419 Jahn Laboratory, and William Johnson, Mapping Sciences Laboratory, Bray Hall, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, New York 13210.

     Young children continue to be lead poisoned in Syracuse, New York despite efforts to limit sources of exposure and educate the public regarding preventative strategies. Each year private physicians, health clinics and the Onondaga County Health Departments’ (OCHD) Lead Poisoning Control Program screen approximately 10,000 children in Syracuse for lead poisoning. As the local regulatory health agency, OCHD utilizes the children’s blood lead results to make referrals for medical and environmental (home condition assessment) follow up. The principle objective for this work (in progress), is to provide a spatial representation of children’s blood lead levels for Syracuse. A four-year data set of blood lead monitoring records was analyzed by SAS to examine the variability of several attributes including age, race, and sex, and to remove replicate observations. The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program ArcView was selected to perform the spatial analysis. Preliminary results indicate children living in southwest Syracuse have the highest blood lead levels. The inadvertent ingestion of contaminated soils and dust via normal hand-to-mouth activity can be one pathway of exposure. Since studies have shown that substantial portions of soil lead can be transported indoors, a relationship between blood lead and soil lead would be expected. The remaining effort of the project is to assess for associations between the blood lead data and soil lead concentration data (approx. 200 soil samples collected) and to inform OCHD about this environmental condition. Additionally, recommendations on how to incorporate the environmental information into the OCHD protocol for selecting blood lead testing target areas of the city will be made.

 

SPATIAL MODELING OF CLIMATE AND PHOTOSYNTHESIS IN THE LUQUILLO MOUNTAINS, PUERTO RICO. David Marley and Charles Hall, Graduate Program in Environmental Science, 301 Illick Hall, SUNY - College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY 13210.

     A spatial model of forest productivity has been applied to a 2160 ha river basin in the Luquillo Mountains of Puerto Rico. The model, TOPOPROD, predicts rates of gross primary productivity by simulating the physiological response of forest vegetation to environmental gradients of climate and soil moisture. Solar insolation is simulated mechanistically, and includes the effects of terrain shading and variable cloud cover. Temperature, humidity deficit, and rainfall are simulated using descriptive equations based upon climatological data from weather stations in and around the study area. A topographic wetness index is utilized to estimate the spatial distribution of soil moisture within the river basin. Simulated gross primary productivity ranged from 12 to 69 t carbon/ha/year (mean 48) and compares favorably with limited empirical gross primary productivity data available. Comparisons of simulated and empirical gross primary productivity data with empirical net primary productivity data suggest that respiration is higher in the Luquillo Mountains than in other tropical forests.

 

AN ENERGY-BASED MODEL OF THE COSTA RICAN INDUSTRIAL EXPORT SECTOR. Timm Kroeger, Graduate Program in Environmental Science, 301 Illick Hall, SUNY-College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY 13210. The author wishes to acknowledge the helpful input of his advisor, Dr. Charles A.S. Hall.

     Energy analysis is one of the standard tools used in ecology to examine the behavior of complex biotic systems. A substantial body of literature exists claiming that the same tools are useful for the analysis of complex human-designed systems, such as national economies. This claim is based on the argument that both natural and human-designed systems are subject to the same physical laws and limitations. This paper assesses the degree to which energy analysis is a useful tool for predicting the development of one human-designed system. The system examined is the industrial sector of the Costa Rican economy. This sector was subjected to World Bank- and International Monetary Fund-designed policies that aimed to increase Costa Rican exports, including industrial exports. The stated goal of these policies was to increase foreign exchange earnings from these exports. I developed a FORTRAN computer model that utilizes economic information about imports and exports of Costa Rica’s industrial sector for the year 1987. The model uses three methods developed in the literature, each with different system boundary definitions, to calculate the embodied energies of the imports and exports of the industrial sector. Based on these monetary and energy data sets the model projects the 1997 values for the embodied energy of industrial exports and imports, which I compare with the actual data. My analysis shows that the promoted increase in exports necessitated a corresponding increase in the imports needed to manufacture these exports. Therefore, the expected increase in foreign exchange was unrealistic, and predictably so, since the data on energy intensities of products used in this analysis were published in 1981 and hence available five years before the export promotion policies were implemented in Costa Rica. I conclude that energy analysis is a useful tool for examining human-designed complex systems because it enhances our understanding of their biophysical underpinnings and their imbeddedness in the surrounding ecosystems.

 

RESOURCE, ENERGY, AND WASTE METABOLISM OF THE US ECONOMY. Jae-Young Ko, Graduate Program in Environmental Science, SUNY-College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY 13210.

     The argument of ‘dematerialization’ is that technological improvements, significantly realized since the 1970s’ oil shock, are the main factor that has generated a ‘lighter,’ ‘more efficient,’ and ‘cleaner’ US economy, and that sustainable development is feasible through technology alone. I examined this issue critically by analyzing time trends of resource use, energy use, and waste generation for the US economy. Additionally, I also examined the effects of trade by assessing the trade patterns and the direct foreign investment by US companies. My results show that 1) the resource consumption per capita has continued to increase essentially linearly with the growth of per capita GDP; 2) the trend of direct investment of US companies oversees explains much of the improved energy efficiency and waste reduction better than technological contributions; 3) the generation of pollutants and wastes from final consumption stage , which must be generated entirely within the boundary of the United States (e.g. municipal solid waste), have increased, while those produced in the manufacturing stage, some of which occurs in foreign countries due to investment there (e.g., industrial waste), have decreased; 4) the energy efficiency of the US economy, which had improved from the 1970s to the mid 1980s, has not improved since then. In short, there appears to be little net improvement in efficiencies of resource or energy use or in pollution reduction, that can be explained by technology alone. The environmental improvements appear to be contributed mainly by the movement of pollution costs to foreign countries, rather than from technological contributions. Sustainable development seems to be harder to achieve than commonly perceived.

 

THE DEVELOPMENT OF A DIETARY EXPOSURE MODEL FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATES: A CADMIUM CASE STUDY. Tricia Lockwood, Graduate Program in Environmental Science, 107 Marshall Hall; James M. Hassett, Environmental Resources and Forest Engineering, 312 Bray Hall, SUNY-ESF, Syracuse, NY 13210, and Gary Diamond, Syracuse Research Corporation, 6225 Running Ridge Road, North Syracuse, NY 13212.

     An exposure assessment provides a qualitative and quantitative description of sources and pathways by which individuals are exposed to environmental contaminates. Estimation of toxicity risks requires quantitative associations between exposure and contaminate body burden over a lifetime. Often, toxicity risks are evaluated by mathematical models that integrate descriptions of exposure sources, intake, uptake and biokinetics of a given contaminate.
     For many environmental pollutants, dietary intake is the most significant environmental exposure pathway for humans. Intake of pollutants from consumption of produce and other foods having potentially elevated concentrations are of great importance due to the health effects associated with these toxicants. Thus, the dietary intake pathway merits serious attention from a public health consideration.
     This study presents one methodology for developing a dietary exposure model of cadmium as a representative environmental contaminate. The model under development will simulate the cadmium body burden associated with exposures through the ingestion of food. The model will estimate total daily cadmium intake from the diet as a function of age, sex, race-ethnicity, and region of residence by querying databases that describe eating patterns and assigning cadmium concentrations to particular food groups. The generalized dietary exposure model can be applied to other environmental contaminates, and should prove useful as a tool for developing effective abatement strategies as well as identifying subpopulations at particular risk to contaminate exposure and toxicity.


Page maintained by Russell Briggs.
Last modified July 19, 1999


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