She’s looking out for the lakes

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Do you have questions about what it’s like to be a environmental chemist? Ask Deb Swackhamer, and keep your eyes on Science Buzz for the answer!

“The Great Lakes are truly one of the richest natural resources on the planet. Whenever I look out on their grandeur, it takes my breath away.””

Photo courtesy Deb Swackhamer

Containing more than 20% of the planet’s fresh water, the contents in the Great Lakes could cover the continental United States in a sea nine feet deep. It may be difficult to imagine such massive bodies of water becoming polluted, but even highly diluted toxic chemicals can become dangerously concentrated as they move up the food chain. By the time they reach birds, large fish, or humans, some chemicals can cause serious health problems.

Environmental chemist Deb Swackhamer is looking out for us, though. She studies how toxins move through ecosystems like the Great Lakes, and she’s working to shape public policy that’s better for the environment, and better for us.