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Kaushal and Duan Assess Micropollutants in Potomac River Watershed

The Potomac River winds through dense green forests
The Potomac River winds through dense green forests
The Potomac River, viewed from the Maryland side near Harper's Ferry, West Virginia

Sujay Kaushal, ESSIC and Department of Geology Associate Professor, and Shuiwang Duan, Department of Geology and Department of Environmental Science and Technology Assistant Research Scientist, recently published a paper in Water Research alongside co-authors from the University at Buffalo’s Department of Chemistry, UMD’s Department of Geology, and private firm Hazen and Sawyer.

The paper, titled “Optimized Suspect Screening Approach for a Comprehensive Assessment of the Impact of Best Management Practices in Reducing Micropollutants Transport in the Potomac River Watershed”, focuses on a wide-scope detection of micropollutants in surface water samples from the Potomac River watershed. Typically, practices to improve water quality are focused on reducing nutrient transport without assessing how these practices may impact the occurrence of micropollutants. Few studies have comprehensively evaluated the contaminants associated with different water quality management practices. Furthermore, most studies attempting to determine micropolluants in environmental samples leave many contaminans undetected. 

To address this gap, the researchers composed an in-house database of 1039 compounds and optimized suspect screening analysis (SSA) workflow to determine the presence of micropollutants in the surface water. They found a total of 103 micropollutants were detected in the samples, some of which are contaminants that were not previously monitored and belong to various classes such as pharmaceuticals, personal care products, per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances and other persistent industrial chemicals. 

Kaushal’s research focuses on long-term chemistry of fresh waters, effects of land use and climate on water quality, and managing and restoring freshwater ecosystems. His current projects investigate freshwater salinization syndrome, human-accelerated weathering, long-term chemistry of inland waters, river restoration, urban evolution of biogeochemical cycles, and applications of geochemical approaches in ecology.  More details regarding his research, teaching, and current CV can also be found at http://www.geol.umd.edu/faculty/KAUSHAL and www.kaushallab.com.

Dr. Shuiwang Duan is an assistant scientist at the University of Maryland. He is a biogeochemist, working on eutrophication, organic and inorganic contaminants in streams and rivers. He is interested in how watershed land use and climate change impact on water quality in aquatic environments. Previously, Duan was an ESSIC Research Associate for over 10 years, during the entire duration of the project.

To access the article, click here: “Optimized Suspect Screening Approach for a Comprehensive Assessment of the Impact of Best Management Practices in Reducing Micropollutants Transport in the Potomac River Watershed”.

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