University Presentation Showcase: Undergraduate Division

Project Title

Arsenic Contamination, Urinary Tract Cancer, and

Major

Geology and Geographic Information Sciences

Department

Geosciences

Degree

Undergraduate

Mentor

Dr. Donald Yow

Mentor Department

Geosciences

Abstract

Coal mining in Eastern and Western Kentucky provides numerous jobs and a source of energy for communities. However, this resource contains several natural toxins that can be easily released into the environment. One such contaminant commonly found in all forms of coal from Eastern and Western Kentucky is arsenic; a chemical which has been linked with several forms of urinary tract cancer with long-term exposure. As water interacts with coal or its byproducts, arsenic can leach into the groundwater, surface waters, and soils. Arsenic can then accumulate in the environment and eventually end up in sources of food or drinking water in relatively high concentrations. This study aims to quantify correlations in the spatial distributions of arsenic contamination, urinary tract cancer rates, and primary coal extraction and consumption sites. To accomplish this, the locations of possible sources of arsenic, the accessibility of arsenic, the rates of urinary tract cancers, and the locations of coal extraction and consumption have been considered. Plotting these factors onto a map using a geographic information system will allow us to see spatial relationships between these three factors, the significance of which will then be quantified. By the end of our research, we are expecting to see a correlation between areas with high concentrations of arsenic in water sources and higher rates of urinary tract cancers.

Presentation format

Poster

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Arsenic Contamination, Urinary Tract Cancer, and

Coal mining in Eastern and Western Kentucky provides numerous jobs and a source of energy for communities. However, this resource contains several natural toxins that can be easily released into the environment. One such contaminant commonly found in all forms of coal from Eastern and Western Kentucky is arsenic; a chemical which has been linked with several forms of urinary tract cancer with long-term exposure. As water interacts with coal or its byproducts, arsenic can leach into the groundwater, surface waters, and soils. Arsenic can then accumulate in the environment and eventually end up in sources of food or drinking water in relatively high concentrations. This study aims to quantify correlations in the spatial distributions of arsenic contamination, urinary tract cancer rates, and primary coal extraction and consumption sites. To accomplish this, the locations of possible sources of arsenic, the accessibility of arsenic, the rates of urinary tract cancers, and the locations of coal extraction and consumption have been considered. Plotting these factors onto a map using a geographic information system will allow us to see spatial relationships between these three factors, the significance of which will then be quantified. By the end of our research, we are expecting to see a correlation between areas with high concentrations of arsenic in water sources and higher rates of urinary tract cancers.