Thursday, December 28, 2006

Crunchy Water

Tue Dec 26, 2006
Puget Sound is being flavored by cinnamon and vanilla.

[All emphasis added].
SEATTLE - Researchers at the University of Washington say all that holiday baking and eating has an environmental impact. [...] [Rick Keil, an associate professor of chemical oceanography] and UW researcher Jacquelyn Neibauer's weekly tests of treated sewage sent into the sound from the West Point treatment plant in Magnolia showed cinnamon, vanilla and artificial vanilla levels rose between Nov. 14 and Dec. 9, with the biggest spike right after Thanksgiving. [...]

So far, the research has turned up no evidence that snickerdoodles are harming sea creatures. [...]

Using benchmarks from a published scientific study, they were able to estimate that people in Seattle and a few outlying areas served by the sewage plant scarfed down the daily equivalent of about 160,000 butter- or chocolate-chip-type cookies and about 80,000 cookies containing cinnamon during the Thanksgiving weekend.

The county did not spend any money on the study, but officials at King County's Wastewater Treatment Division said they were happy to cooperate because they expected the results to reinforce their message: What goes down the drain has to come out somewhere.

That goes both for pesticides and industrial chemicals as well as vanilla and cinnamon.

"It's an ability to look at a whole population's behavior through one pipe," said Randy Schuman, a county science and technical support manager who helped arrange the wastewater testing.

Keil's findings present a light side of what scientists say is potentially a serious situation. Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey and other agencies have documented that antibiotics, contraceptives, perfumes, painkillers, antidepressants and other substances pass through the sewage system into waterways.

King County researchers [over] several years took caffeine measurements to try to learn whether the city's coffee drinking habits had any effect on the sound. Caffeine was found in more than 160 of 216 samples in water as deep as 640 feet.

"It was everywhere," Schuman said. "There's an effect (from) humans on the sound and it's almost ubiquitous. It's not just at the end of the (discharge) pipe."


Blogger Duck said...

There's no mention of the impact of caffeinated, artificially happy fish with sweet tooths on the fishing industry. Will the snickerdoodle become the bait of choice?

December 28, 2006 10:05 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Should we look for an upsurge in shark attacks?

December 29, 2006 5:05 AM  

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