At left: Cane Creek. Photo by Chuck Sutherland.
Lead is a non-essential heavy metal that is mined around the world and was once used for many commercial applications, such as paint. In fact, gasoline was an additive in fuel until 1976; once it was phased out, the average IQ of children in the US increased by 4 to 6 points. Lead is still continually added to our environment through the burning of fossil fuels. This pollutant is found in at least 75 percent of the US’s most polluted sites, according to the CDC.
In an ecosystem, lead can be extremely detrimental, as it is toxic to both plant and animal life. It has a tendency to bioaccumulate, meaning our cells have a tendency to gather it because it has similar properties to essential nutrients. Lead has also been shown to cause reduced fertility levels in mammals. Lead’s toxicity depends on its solubility, which depends on the water’s pH. When it enters the water, lead often reacts with sediments and organic matter.
Because the solubility and properties of lead largely depend on the water’s pH, lead removal tactics have variable success. There are, however, certain methods of removing lead form surface waters.How To Help (And Who Can Help You)1. Allow for natural growth near waterways.2. Limit impervious surfaces.3. Plant a rain garden.4. Plan for a better future.5. Contact your representatives.6. Support your local watershed stewards.7. Spread the word.Ready To Make A Difference?Pledge to do one or more of these mitigation activities!