UI engineers check Mississippi River for PCBs


Mississippi River. Photo by bdearth, Flickr.

University of Iowa engineers spent a day collecting core samples from the Mississippi River.

The group of engineers was part of Keri Hornbuckle’s team. Hornbuckle is both a professor in UI’s Civil and Environmental Engineering department and a member of the Center for Global & Regional Environmental Research.

The team will study the core samples to determine PCB levels. This data will then be compared to previous data taken from the Iowa River.

Click here to see a photo gallery of the researchers’ day on the Mississippi River.

Click here, here and here to find out more about Hornbuckle’s research.

UI students test Cedar Rapids’ soil for pollutants


Downtown Cedar Rapids Photo by Chepner, Flickr

University of Iowa engineer students, led by professor Keri Hornbuckle, published the finding of their study on Cedar Rapids’ residential soil samples. The students tested samples to determine their levels of PCBs and chlordane pollutants.

The study found that the pollutants’ levels were comparable to similar areas around the world, and were near the level where the EPA recommends remediation.

PCBs are a family of chemicals that were used for manufacturing many products up till its use was banned in 1979. PCBs are carcinogens, and have also been linked to other health issues involving the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system and endocrine system.

Cholordane is a compound that was used in the U.S. as a pesticide up until 1988. Chlordane has been linked to a similar set of health effects as PCBs, including cancer.

For more information of the study, view the UI press release here.

Environmental Experts Speak: UI’s Keri Hornbuckle discusses PCBs and other toxins


Keri Hornbuckle is a professor in the University of Iowa’s Department of  Civil and Environmental Engineering. She is also a member of the Center For Global & Regional Environmental Research. Much of Hornbuckle’s research involves measuring and studying toxins in the environment. She recently discussed some of her current projects with Iowa Environmental Focus.

Hornbuckle began by giving an overview of her work:

“My work is part of the Iowa Super Fund Research Program, which focuses on PCBs – in particular, airborne PCBs or potentially airborne PCBs. Continue reading

UI researchers find PCBs beneath harbor’s sediment


Photo by BitHead, Flickr

A team of University of Iowa (UI) researchers recently discovered high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the sediment of the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal (IHSC) – a waterway connecting to Lake Michigan.

PCB exposure is linked to numerous health effects, including cancer. Continue reading

A Watershed Woman: Connie Mutel


Photo by Tim Schoon.

IT’S EASY to sum up Connie Mutel’s complexity. Simply put, she’s a renaissance woman.

Tucked away in her office in the IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering Institute’s archives, Mutel enjoys the hundreds of years of history and scientific research at her fingertips.

But she’s the antithesis of what one might expect from a historian and archivist. She does more than just preserve and organize documents in a stuffy room. Outside of her office, she engages with Iowa’s natural landscape and with her pen, campaigns vigorously, yet eloquently to help protect it.

An eternal liberal arts student, Mutel dons many figurative hats atop her shortly-cropped hair. Beyond her archival duties at the IIHR, she is also an ecologist and accomplished writer and editor.

Mutel has edited the soon to be released A Watershed Year: Anatomy of the Iowa Floods of 2008 – her twelfth book – a diverse collection of essays that scientifically dissect the Iowa floods of 2008. The compilation includes works from many of Mutel’s colleagues at IIHR.

Continue reading