Study: Small streams play big role in capturing pollution

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Take care of that little backyard stream. You could reap the benefits next time you draw some water from the tap or go for a swim at the beach.

A new article in the science journal Nature describes the critical role small streams play in removing nitrogen pollution caused by fertilizers, farm animal waste, septic tanks and fossil fuels.

Lead author Patrick Mulholland of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory says the study found fungi, algae and bacteria in streams can naturally absorb or remove most nitrogen pollution.

But when nitrogen levels become too high, the streams can become overwhelmed and the pollution flows downstream where it fouls lakes and the ocean.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Join the Conversation!

To comment, the following rules must be followed:

  • No Obscenity, Profanity, Vulgarity, Racism or Violent Descriptions
  • No Negative Community Comparisons
  • No Fighting, Name-calling, or Personal Attacks
  • Multiple Accounts are Not Allowed
  • Stay on Story Topic

Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.

Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Links require admin approval before posting.
Questions may be sent to Please provide detailed information.

powered by Disqus


6450 Papermill Drive Knoxville, TN 37919 Phone - (865) 450-8888; Fax - (865) 450-8869
Copyright © 2014 WVLT-TV Inc. - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 16637736 -
Gray Television, Inc.