Trump’s Budget Would Eliminate A Key Funder Of Research On Coastal Pollution
To find out what would be lost if it’s defunded, let’s start in a yard next to the Severn River in Maryland.
A lot of septic tanks break down, often invisibly, and what’s inside pollutes waterways.
She’s looking for a particular kind of pollution — nitrogen.
Harris explains that nitrogen in a river or bay is fine in the right amount.
In fact, excess nitrogen is the single largest pollution problem in coastal waters, from the Chesapeake Bay to the Gulf of Mexico.
So her team is developing a chemical fingerprint that could pinpoint nitrogen pollution from septic tanks.
Harris spends a lot of time in waders, hopscotching all over the Chesapeake Bay area to sample water, mostly near housing developments.
Her research colleague Andrew Heyes explains that the septic fingerprint they’re working on targets more than just nitrogen compounds.
"Some of the compounds you use in your soap, pharmaceuticals — all the things that you flush down the toilet or pass through your body end up going through the septic system."
Gonsior has identified some 15,000 compounds in septic water.