Gulf Coast environmental issues -- Tip sheet

August 25, 1999

Gulf Coast environmental issues are highlighted in several papers being presented at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, in New Orleans, Aug. 22 - 26. Subjects include toxic compounds in Gulf oysters, how weather affects ozone levels in the region, and the quality of Mississippi River water. All papers are embargoed until the time of presentation, unless otherwise noted.

Toxic Compounds in Oysters - Tributyltin (TBT) - a biocide used primarily on ship hulls, docks and buoys to guard against the growth of barnacles, algae and other marine organisms - is highly toxic to crustaceans and can retard growth in oysters. Federal regulations adopted in 1988 restricted the use of TBT-paint on most ships less than about 50 feet in length, and set standards for the amount of TBT that can leach from the paint into the water. Researchers at Texas A&M University have found that oysters from the Gulf of Mexico have detectable levels of TBT, probably from uptake or ingestion of sediments, ship yard wastes and TBT-paints used on larger vessels. (J. Sericano - Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; AGRO 59; Monday, Aug. 23, 2:45 p.m.; Convention Center, Room 218. See page 67 in the final program.)

How Weather Affects Ozone Levels in Louisiana and Texas - Heat, humidity and reduced air circulation are well known to residents of Gulf Coast states. These weather patterns, combined with pollution from the urban and industrial areas, can cause ozone levels to soar, particularly from April through October. New Orleans is an exception. The city generally enjoys good air movement, which helps keep ozone levels from becoming excessive. Specific atmospheric phenomena - including some local meteorological conditions - that contribute to high ozone levels will be the subject of this presentation. (S. Hsu - Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, La.; ENVR 67; Wednesday, Aug. 25, 9:25 a.m.; Convention Center, Room 208. See page 90 in the final program.)

Water Quality of the Lower Mississippi River Improves - In perhaps the largest study of its kind in the United States, Tulane University researchers have compiled data from more than three million water quality records - from government, industry and municipalities. The data indicate that the Mississippi River south of the Arkansas-Missouri border to the Gulf of Mexico is cleaner in most respects than it was 20 years ago. One distinct difference is the decrease in the frequency of detection of volatile organic compounds - such as benzene, toluene and chloroform - typically used in fuel refining operations and in industrial and household solvents. (J. Bollinger - Tulane University, New Orleans, La.; ENVR 69; Wednesday, Aug. 25, 10:40 a.m.; Convention Center, Room 208. See page 90 in the final program.)
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A nonprofit organization with a membership of nearly 159,000 chemists and chemical engineers, the American Chemical Society publishes scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences, and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio. (http://www.acs.org)

American Chemical Society

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