Despite their protected status, national parks are not immune from the effects of modern life. Pollution in the form of pesticides, PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ether flame retardants) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons released by forest fires and fossil fuel combustion) show up in parks across the country. In the West, Staci Simonich, professor in the Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences, has been tracking sources of such contamination in high-elevation parks such as Sequoia in the Sierras, Washington’s Olympic and Denali in Alaska.

At the April 9 Corvallis Science Pub, Simonich, an environmental chemist, will discuss her research on regional and international sources of pollution in the western United States. Using facilities in Oregon and other western states to track air movement, she and her colleagues have correlated the results of air and soil sampling in parks with events such as forest fires and pesticide use. She will discuss the factors that influence pollutant transport to and distribution in soils, plants and animals.

Simonich received her Ph.D. in 1995 from Indiana University and, as a professor in Environmental and Molecular Toxicology and Department of Chemistry, leads a research team to understand how people in the United States and China are exposed to PAHs through OSU’s NIH funded Superfund Research Center


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