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Wetlands and Water Purity

High School Interns at the MSU Midland Campus, 07.12.2017

Team: Serena Fleming-Dittenber, Midland High; Callen Herst, Bullock Creek; Nicole Seiler, Bullock Creek; and Ris Agrwal, Great Lakes Bay Early College

Mentor: Daniel Henton, Ph.D., with additional consulting provided by Greg Martin of Dow.

The purpose of the project is to acquire data to help define the extent of the chemical plume (in part from activities on the base using perfluorinated compounds present in highly effective fire-fighting foams) that has been discovered migrating from the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, MI. Data acquired by AECOM (an environmental services company) under contract by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) over the past few years has better defined the extent of the potential problem but additional sampling and analysis is needed to find out if the contamination is increasing, decreasing, or spreading out over a larger area.

Our group of interns are working with an AECOM scientist, a representative from MDEQ, and scientists from the Dow Chemical Company (who will be providing the sensitive analytical resources required) to gather samples of water from some areas of concern and will be processing the samples to send them to Dow for analysis. Our interns will be learning sampling procedures, sample preparation, and impurity concentration techniques, and ultimately will be analyzing the data generated at Dow to calculate actual contaminant concentrations. This data they generate will be compared with the historical database and will help in making multi-million dollar decisions regarding how the chemical contamination in the area will be dealt with in the future.