Discipline: Biological Sciences
Subcategory: Plant Research
Room: Exhibit Hall
DonnaMarie Miller - Norfolk State University
The history that the Elizabeth River has with the industrial trade has taken a hard toll on the health of the river. The high demand of coal tar creosote needed to preserve railroad ties, cords and wood, has caused pollution in the river through run offs, direct exposure, and chemical spills. Coal Tar Creosote is an oily substance that has sunken and settled into the sediment of the river floor. The creosote is made mostly of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) which is a known carcinogen. This chemical compound has caused cancers in many of the marine life that inhabit these toxic waters. According to the Evironmental Protective Agency (EPA), 0.2 ppb is the maximum contamination level (MCL) for PAH in drinking water. The river has over four hundred times the toxicity threshold, causing restorative methods to be put into action. The river’s shore has been compromised. The grass life on the shores of the river have been depleted in the efforts to remove the contaminated sediment. This degradation of the river’s shoreline has raised concern about the affects PAH toxicity can have on germinating seeds. Different species of plants are under evaluation to aid in restorative efforts. The hypothesis of this study will demonstrate that as the creosote concentration level increases, the germination count will decrease. This study tested the amount of seeds that germinate in different creosote concentration levels. The analysis was done by observing the exposure of a radical (primary root). Two different species were exposed to five different concentration levels of creosote. This study found that the higher the level of creosote in the soil, the lower the visible mass and germination rate of little blue stem seeds. The PAHs have a negative effect on the visible mass of the switch grass seedlings, the germination count was not effected. The study demonstartes the germination rate of local plants in toxic conditions and determine the need for restorative measures.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): Dr. Stephen Via
Faculty Advisor: Maureen Scott, Mscott@nsu.edu
Role: I was responsible for determining the Creosote levels to be tested, setting up the experiment according to my method choice, maintaining the experiment, and observing and recording the data.