Anthropogenic Contamination in US Nearshore Waters: Analysis of Coastal Flooding Concerns and Nonpoint Pollution Risk Factors
Bi-College (Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges). Department of Environmental Studies
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Runoff from land introduces anthropogenic contaminants to nearshore marine environments impacting water quality and ecosystem health. The expansion of urban land area and associated urban population growth, without efforts to reduce urban runoff, threatens the health of nearshore waters. Due to sea level rise there will be a greater frequency of general coastal flooding and major flood events that can amplify this problem. This study explores 185 coastal counties within the 18 states of the United States that have coastal land area and the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. We looked at the occurrences of coastal flooding, storm surge, and tropical storms and hurricanes within each county. To identify areas of particular concern for increased runoff of anthropogenic contaminants, we cross-referenced each county's city structure, population growth, superfund sites, farmland percentage, and copper and coal mines. Overall, we found 33 counties with high flood concern and within that 6 counties that have high risk for increased anthropogenic contamination. Looking into the future, as the US continues to coastally urbanize and climate change continues to impact coastal waters, we will need to continue to monitor anthropogenic contamination of nearshore waters.