Water levels in the Great Salt Lake are down more than they have been in half a century and, as a result, have started to release arsenic into the air. Scientists are studying these changes and warning people of the dangerous repercussions.
A megadrought in the US is affecting many areas, dangerously throwing off the balance of nature and wildlife as lakes and oceans are reaching lower levels.
Kevin Perry, chairman of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Utah, said, “One of the concerns we have is the particles that are coming off the lake getting into people’s lungs. Fifteen to 20 years ago, when the lake was higher, most of these dust spots were covered up, and if you cover them up with water. They don’t produce dust. And so, as the lake has receded, it’s exposed more and more of that lake bed. As we get to the larger area, we have more frequent dust storms.”
The effect of this drought long-term could mean high levels of arsenic being released into the air as the soil dries out.
There is also the concern for the wildlife that depends on the Great Salt Lake. Microbialites that live on the bottom of the lake can dry out and die within weeks but take years to recover, affecting the dozens of wildlife species that depend on them for food.
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