Ecological Impacts of Urban Contaminants

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City street

Led by Emilie Snell-Rood and Nic Jelinksi

Toxins such as heavy metals and salts are elevated in cities because of human activities such as past use of lead paint and gasoline, winter road salt application, and use of building materials. However, these toxins are not found in the same amounts across neighborhoods. Furthermore, not all living creatures seem to be harmed equally by these toxins. We are mapping heavy metals in soils across MSP to discover where pollution levels are highest. We are also exploring why some species of plants and animals thrive in polluted environments, and whether we can find ways to manage ecological communities to reduce the risk of exposure to heavy metals in soils.