Rising groundwater threatens to spread toxic pollution on U.S. coastlines

Friday, June 9, 2023 - 11:54 in Earth & Climate

Hidden flows of water are poised to flush toxic contamination into U.S. coastal communities. Sea level rise from climate change won’t just force shorelines to retreat — in inland areas, it will guilefully lift groundwater into shallower soils. That rising water could infiltrate hundreds of U.S. Superfund sites — severely polluted locations identified by the Environmental Protection Agency for cleanup — researchers warn in a preliminary study posted May 25 to ESS Open Archive. These sites — and thousands of other polluted areas — could be at risk of releasing heavy metals, radioactive elements, pesticides and industrial chemicals associated with human health problems (SN: 4/26/23). People of color and low-income communities would be disproportionately affected. “Just the sheer number of Superfund sites where there are these dangerous contaminants that could be liberated — it’s astonishing,” says coastal geologist Patrick Barnard of the U.S. Geological Survey in Santa Cruz, Calif., who wasn’t involved in...

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