Tipsheet: Environmental Story Ideas

stry Program is studying why some watersheds are more vulnerable than others to mercury contamination. The research team is comparing notes from two diverse landscapes: Rivers of the Lake Superior Basin and the Florida Everglades.

Program director David Armstrong says researchers are finding that watersheds with a high proportions of wetlands and forest tend to be more vulnerable to mercury moving downstream. In the Everglades, they are studying how management practices affect mercury's accumulation in the food chain. Mercury pollution, primarily from burning fossil fuels and deposited by air onto the landscape, has been linked to neurological problems and is a frequent culprit in fish advisories.

For more information, contact Armstrong at 608-262-0768; or colleague James Hurley at 608-262-1136.

Getting Industry Waste Out Of The Landfill

Heavy industry generates millions of tons of solid waste every year, and UW-Madison engineers would like to keep it out of already-swelling landfills.

A group of civil engineers has recently created the Beneficial Reuse Program, a research campaign designed to find alternative uses for foundry sand, fly ash, reclaimed pavement, shredded tires and paper sludge - most of which gets entombed in landfills.

Civil engineer Craig Benson says dumping industrial waste in landfills is very costly. But the waste makes good, cheap and abundant materials for the construction and transportation industries. For example, the UW-Madison researchers found that foundry sand makes effective barriers for landfills, embankments and retaining walls for highways, and supplements for asphalt. They are also exploring road construction applications for shredded tires and plastic.

For more information, contact Benson at 608-262-7242; or doctoral student Tarek Abichou at 608-262-6281.


Contact: Brian Mattmiller
University of Wisconsin-Madison

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