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Living Lab Radio: Road Salt And Drinking Water, Sexual Harassment In Science, And An Underwater Volcanic Eruption

Road salt is loaded into a truck surrounded by mountains of salt at Eastern Minerals Inc., Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, in the Boston suburb of Chelsea, Mass.
Bill Sikes/AP
  • Road Salt Linked to Saltier, More Alkaline Rivers and Streams: A new study highlights a side-effect of winter weather that is, on one hand, totally logical and, on the other hand, rather shocking. The U.S. uses some 19 million tons of salt each year for de-icing roads and other infrastructure. Now, that practice has been linked to widespread changes in the chemistry of American rivers and streams, particularly their salinity and alkalinity. That has implications for drinking water systems and the diversity of freshwater ecosystems. Sujay Kaushal, associate professor of geology and earth system science at the University of Maryland, College Park, is lead author of that study. He says it all got started when the water in his home turned dark brown.
  • One Year of Attacks on Science by the Trump Administration: It’s been almost a year since President Trump took office. For some, it has been a year spent tallying what they say are attacks by the administration on science – ranging from nominating non-scientists to lead science-heavy agencies, to changing the data and language presented on federal websites. We talk with Jacob Carter, a research scientist for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
  • Exploring the Largest Underwater Volcanic Eruption of the Century: During the summer of 2012, a raft of newly-formed volcanic rock one and a half times the size of Boston appeared in the Pacific Ocean near New Zealand. It was scientists’ clue that a volcano was erupting deep below the sea surface. Five years later, scientists have released their first in-depth analysis of what appears to have been the largest eruption of its kind in the past century. Adam Soule is chief scientist for the National Deep Submergence Facility at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and co-author of the new study in Science Advances.
  • Tackling Pervasive Sexual Abuse and Harassment in Science: Allegations of sexual abuse, harassment and misconduct have rocked one industry after another in recent months. It usually doesn’t garner the same headlines as Hollywood stars or federal legislators, but several high-profile scientists have also been the subject of these kinds of accusations. And sexual abuse and harassment appears to be prevalent in academia. A 2014 survey found that more than a quarter of female field researchers had reported sexual assault while working in the field, and almost three quarters had reported harassment. Kathryn Clancy, associate professor of anthropology at University of Illinois, was part of the team that conducted that survey and she has joined a federal legislative effort to require universities to report findings of sexual misconduct by faculty to federal funding agencies. 


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