Mercury Pollution’s Oldest Traces Found in Peru

Publication: National Geographic magazine   Date: May 18, 2009   View Article

Demand for the mercury compound vermilion was strong enough to support a large-scale mercury mining industry in the Andes as far back as 1400 B.C., according to a new study.

A bright red pigment, vermilion was used in ancient Andean rituals and is frequently found adorning gold and silver ceremonial objects in ancient burials of kings and nobles in South America.

Gene Altered Plant, Tree Can Suck Up Toxins

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 15, 2007   View Article

Two types of genetically modified plants can remove toxic compounds from the environment, according to research by a pair of independent groups.

One group developed Arabidopsis plants—small plants related to cabbage and mustard—that can clean up soil contaminated with cyclonite, or RDX. The widely used explosive is highly toxic and carcinogenic.

Sex-Changing Chemicals Can Wipe Out Fish, Study Shows

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 21, 2007   View Article

Tiny amounts of the estrogen used in birth control pills can cause wild fish populations to collapse, according to a new study.

The finding raises concern about even low levels of estrogen in municipal wastewater, said study leader Karen Kidd, a biologist with the Canadian Rivers Institute at the University of New Brunswick.

Insects Key Indicators of Water Health, Experts Say

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: February 1, 2007   View Article

Sometimes it’s good to have bugs in your water.

An increase in the diversity and size of water insects is heralding an improvement in the environmental quality of streams that flow into the Carson River in northern California and Nevada.

Poison Frogs Losing Their Toxicity, Study Suggests

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 7, 2006   View Article

Poison frogs may be losing their toxicity as human development fragments their habitats, a recent study says.

The study examined the diversity of alkaloids found in poison frogs in different regions and habitats on Madagascar, an island nation off the southeast coast of Africa.

Volcano Spews Gas, Lava in Indonesia; 11,000 Evacuated

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 6, 2006   View Article

Indonesian officials began evacuating 11,000 people from around the Merapi volcano today, as lava and clouds of gas and debris poured down its steep, upper slopes, news agencies reported.

The 9,700-foot (2,900-meter) volcano on the Indonesian island of Java has been sporadically spewing clouds of toxic gas and lava for several weeks.

Deep Sea Volcano Erupts on Film – A First

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 24, 2006   View Article

Billowing ash plumes, molten sulfur droplets, feisty shrimp feasting on fish killed by noxious gases, red lava jetting from a vent—they’re all part of the action recently filmed at an underwater volcano in the western Pacific Ocean.

The images are the first ever direct observations of an active, submarine arc volcano. These volcanoes grow near trenches that form where one piece of Earth’s oceanic crust slips beneath another.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach