2017 Muddy River Symposium Winning Abstracts

E-Waste Dumping: Harming Vulnerable Populations
Makayla Andre, Evan Klayman, Amber Newton, Leonard Wallace V
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University

Electronic waste (e-waste) is defined as any waste that comes from discarded electronic devices. E-waste dumping poses as a significant threat to the Earth’s environment and human health, specifically in the countries: China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Ghana. E-waste contaminates the environment via the soil, dust, food, air, and water. Humans come in contact with toxic pollutants from the electronic parts. Poor children are often employed to separate metals, exposing them to harmful chemicals. These exposures cause adverse health effects such as: changes in thyroid function, altered cellular expression and function, cognitive and behavioral changes, and decreased lung function. Solutions for this world-wide problem call for manufacturers to stop using hazardous materials when making electronic devices and for electronic companies to utilize take-back programs that recover, recycle, refurbish, and resell electronic devices. E-waste dumping is a topic of controversy as companies exploit regulatory loopholes to dispose of toxic electronic materials in impoverished areas that lack the financial resources to stop this from happening. Going forward, passing and enforcing legislation should be a priority to prevent companies from dumping toxic waste.


Protecting Our Waterways: Determination of Heavy Metals in Boston Water
Tyler Billick, Kathryn Daigle, Kellie Roche, and Aren Gerdon
Department of Chemistry and Physics, Emmanuel College, Boston, MA

Water samples from the Muddy River and Boston tap water were analyzed over the past seven years to track the concentration of metal cations present. This information was used to compare the observed heavy metal content to daily intake allowances as well as EPA regulations for waterways. Titration with EDTA found an average water hardness of 182 ± 16 mg of CaCO3 in the Muddy River and 17 ± 2 mg of CaCO3 in the tap water. Analysis with ICP-AES found detectable concentrations of iron and copper while lead and chromium were not detected above our limit of detection. This can be useful for monitoring both public health in drinking water as well as the safety of the Muddy River to aid in sustainability efforts in the local environment.


Sekiseishoko Reef Tragedy
Dhara Desai, Angela Nguyen, Lilly Cheam, Sandini Wijayasiri
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University

Japan’s famous coral reef, the Sekiseishoko reef, located in Stone Nagasaki Lake is facing a terrible disaster. The reef has experienced harsh conditions; almost 90% has been bleached and 70% of that has completely died. Being the largest reef area in Japan, it is incredibly important to local fishermen and tourist operations. This would bring a great tragedy to the local people by limiting their food supply and causing a loss in income. The damage at this level will have long-term economic and social repercussions. Mainly, the bleaching is due to the temperature rise in the sea caused by global warming. Unfortunately, global warming is an impact of our lifestyle, which includes pollution, destructive fishing techniques and careless tourism. The Japanese government is taking action by placing laws that promote nature restoration. Although damage this great will take a long time to recover, it is still possible if the right conditions prevail. By providing people with the present status of the coral reefs, they can take action for marine conservation such as reducing pollution and not overfishing. It is important to learn about the impact on Japanese’s coral reef because it can teach us how to prevent this from reoccurring or expanding to other locations around the world.

ReVision Urban Farming
Arianna Griffin, Shelby Pollack, Gabby Lawinger
Massachusetts College of Art and Design

For our service-learning project for the Environmental Forum class, we have been volunteering at ReVision Urban Farms. ReVision Urban farming is part of the Victory Programs located in Boston. The ReVision Urban Farm program first started with a woman who started growing a garden in her front lawn and then pushed the program to a plot across the street to provide local and affordable food for the residents nearby. The program has provided shelter for homeless women and their families as well as providing them fresh food. They show how bringing agriculture into urban settings can bring about positive change in the communities as well as providing people with a local, affordable, and sustainable food source.

Our presentation explains and demonstrate some of the processes by which the organization helps those in need in a sustainable manner, as well as how that has influenced our thoughts behind how small actions can have a big impact. For example, the participation in new means and methods for urban agriculture and how to incorporate it into city life were examined. Some methods observed so far is the use of green houses, efficient use of small spaces, and the promotion of individual farming by selling sprouts to the community. We ourselves are learning ways to farm for produce such as basics in planting seeds and the methods used to promote plant growth.


Urbanization of the Muddy River
Kate LaGattuta, Danny Ly, Lisa Lobel, Ian Chamenko, Tala Ferguson
Wheelock College

Continuous temperature and conductivity data were collected within the Muddy River to assess daily and seasonal changes. Understanding past levels and natural variations in these parameters will aid in determining improvements resulting from the restoration project as well as long-term changes due to climate change. In particular, we aim to characterize the background conductivity levels found within the river and how this is impacted by the use of road salt as a deicer. Temperature and conductivity were monitored hourly for two years in the Muddy River. Lettuce seed bioassays conducted on Muddy River water samples were used to determine if high conductivity had a negative impact on seed germination. Summer water temperatures exceeded the Massachusetts water quality standard in both years. Conductivity spikes as high as 9,000 uS/cm were associated with winter precipitation events while decreasing conductivity levels were associated with summer precipitation events. These data will provide valuable background information to better understand the intersection between the restoration efforts and climate change impacts within this small urban watershed.

Wasted Void
James McDonnell
Wentworth Institute of Technology

The typical US metropolis has developed irregularly with shifting architectural trends and urban strategies, instead of thoughtfully orchestrating public life. This inconsistency has led to spaces that are lack place and identity, only marked by the buildings and infrastructure-surrounding realm. In the 21st Century, curating “hollowness” has not only been limited to inadequately designed environments, but also has continued into our society’s concept of engagement with it. Advancements in communication technology have left an absolute void in the way we interact and engage with one another in real life interchanges. A growing number of us have become accustomed to virtual, impersonal relationships instead of face-to-face encounters. The idea of mingling in public space has become increasingly less preferable and expected among members of the public realm.

The purpose of this project is to fill the hollowness, that is, various types of voids by satisfying today’s growing emptiness in actual human engagement. The project creates scales of ambiguously designed instruments that can serve a variety of functions/program. This flexibility allows for more opportunity for the space to be interpreted by the users. These instruments nest together to become easily transportable and applicable to various spaces that suffer from insufficient design and lack the engagement our society needs.

The concept of this project enables replication to revitalize these voids throughout our cities by fulfilling needs of the people. The flexibility in the design of the instruments I propose, addresses the needs on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to insure continuous activation and interaction within the space.

An analysis of phosphorus levels in the Charles River from 1996 to 2015 in relation to policy enactment
Kayla Myros
Simmons College

The phosphorus level in rivers is significantly affected by stormwater polluted with impervious surface runoff and decomposing organic matter from urbanized areas. Elevated phosphorus levels in waterways contributes to eutrophication and hypoxia from algal blooms. The purpose of this case study was to assess the importance of stormwater pollution reduction policy on waterways, specifically analyzing the Charles River’s phosphorus levels between 1996 and 2015. I hypothesize that with the introduction of federal wet weather regulations in Massachusetts, the phosphorus concentrations in the Charles River will have decreased overall from 1996 to 2015. I also expect the levels to fluctuate with seasonal changes: rising in the summer and falling in the winter because of increased fertilizer use and detritus waste in the summer. I analyzed quarterly water quality data, collected by the Charles River Watershed Association, using a repeated measures statistical test. The repeated measures test quantifies the variable’s change over time and the statistical significance of that change. Based on the overall trends, the study ends with a commentary on implementing infrastructure and local practice changes that will reduce pollution infiltration and improve water quality.