Office of Public Affairs
(315) 312-2265
May 8, 2002
CONTACT: James Pagano, 312-2810
OSWEGO -- Scientists from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, SUNY Oswego and two other New York universities are cooperating on the Lake Ontario Air Deposition Study, which got under way in April. They are studying the levels of mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxins in the air over the lake and in the water and comparing levels of these pollutants found on shore in nearby Sterling.
"The cycling of these contaminants in the environment is significant since they are bioaccumulated in fish and aquatic life and play a role in the use of fish for commercial and recreational uses," said James Pagano, assistant director of Oswego's Environmental Research Center. They also "have been associated with a wide array of environmental and health effects," he noted.
Pagano is one of the co-principal investigators on the project.
The Research Vessel Lake Guardian, the largest pollution monitoring vessel on the Great Lakes, spent a week on Lake Ontario in April collecting samples of air and water. At the same time, a land-based collection site is operating at Sterling Nature Center to collect air and rainwater samples for the next seven months. Results from this station will be correlated with those obtained on the Lake Guardian.
"Oswego is responsible for the operation of the Sterling site and all PCB analyses for the project," Pagano said.
The Sterling station is the only site collecting air contaminant data on the U.S. side of Lake Ontario. "We operate six different instruments to collect these samples," Pagano said. EPA scientists also sampled the Black, Salmon, Oswego and Genesee rivers and Eighteenmile Creek.
Another seven- to 10-day cruise on the Lake Guardian will take place in September to capture seasonal variations in pollutants as affected by temperature and rainfall. Pagano said he hopes to arrange for some Oswego students to participate in that sampling mission.
The data obtained in the study will be used to validate the Lake Ontario Lakewide Management Plan, which aims to reduce pollutants in the lake.
The EPA study will assess any differences in concentrations and deposition of the pollutants over land versus over water, determine the effect of urban areas on lake pollution and investigate the sources and source regions of pollutants deposited in the lake.
EPA Region 2 and Clarkson University are managing the study, with assistance from SUNY Oswego, SUNY Fredonia, Environment Canada, University of Michigan, EPA Region 5 and the Great Lakes National Program Office.
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