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2003 chemistry abstracts

2003 Research Fair Archive - Chemistry Abstracts

Ergosterol Analysis of decomposing leaves in Emigration Creek
by Ike Morgan  (Faculty Sponsor:  Paul Hooker)

The purpose of this project was to answer the following questions:

  • How rapidly do leaves decompose in Emigration Creek waters?
  • Is the rate of decomposition dependent on leaf type (Cottonwood vs. Boxelder)?
  • Is fungal colonization of leaf litter an important part of the decomposition process in a stream?

Leaves were placed in the water and allowed to decompose.  Leaf samples were removed at various time intervals up to 90 days.  The samples were analyzed for mass loss and ergosterol - a steroid indicative of fungal activity.  The largest mass loss activity occurred in the first few days, but no ergosterol was detected on any leaf sample that had been submerged in the stream.

Environmental Lead Assessment of a Nineteenth-Century Farmhouse
Melissa K. Smith  (Faculty Sponsor:  Paul Hooker)

This work presents the results of an environmental lead assessment of a turn-of-the-century farmhouse located in Sandy, Utah.  This particular site was selected because its maintenance history suggested the extensive use of lead-based paints and, up until 1999, it was known to contain a type of attic insulation derived from a by-product of lead-smelting.  It is also situated within four miles of an abandoned nineteenth-century lead smelter.  External paint samples for lead analysis were taken from window frames and soil samples from directly below the windows, eaves (drip line), and 2 m from the house.  Internal dust, paint, and attic insulation samples were analyzed.  Results show that the paint used on the exterior window frames contains up to 39% lead (by mass) and that the soil around the house contains quantities of lead well above natural background levels.  The concentration of lead in the soil under the windows is above the limit recommended by EPA for clean-up and removal of the soil.  The paint used internally contains a much lower lead percentage, but the levels of lead found in interior dust samples indicate  that anyone living in the house would ingest quantities of lead that could lead to Pb poisoning.