What is in Salton Sea Water?

Pesticides are  a common cause of chemical pollution in US water systems. Pesticides are chemicals commonly used to shield crops from depletion by insects, animals, and other plants, like weeds or fungi, and are commonly used in agriculture. Pesticides get into the water systems when the pesticides are sprayed on the crops, then wind, or rain, washes the pesticides into nearby water systems. Salton Sea has a lot of waste water run into its water system from nearby farms in the area. In fact, most of the water that fills the Salton sea is actually waste water from nearby farms.

In this experiment, we tested the water at the Salton sea to determine the types of pesticides and contamination in the water samples. These chemical determinations through GCMS analysis were used to predict the types of chemicals present with certainty, and to predict where the chemicals might have come from (i.e. pesticides from farms, plastics from plastic waste). The goal of this experiment was to determine the pesticide content and contamination of the samples through BOD water experiments followed by splitless SIM and GCMS analysis, and through sediment chemical analysis through splitless SIM and GCMS analysis. Once we can identify what the issue is, then we can use that information to formulate new ideas to make the Salton Sea more environmentally friendly. 

Many chemicals were found in the Salton Sea water samples. Some of the chemicals found are found in plasticizers and pesticides, like Caprolactam. Caprolactam is a commonly used ingredient for making nylon 6, and other plastics, and is classified as an organic. It is water soluble. This chemical was found in the Salton Sea water that my group analyzed specifically, but class data showed other lactams in their water samples, like 2-pyrrolidinone-1-methyl. According to the PubChem webpage on Caprolactam, the primary threat from this chemical is an environmental one.

The Salton Sea is full of chemicals like Caprolactam that came from pollutants like plastic waste, and agricultural run-off. In order for the Salton Sea to become a booming waterway for life, then the system needs to be corrected for the amount of chemicals that are in the system. Water soluble chemicals, like caprolactam are especially dangerous to the plant and animal life in the Salton Sea. Now that we know what we are looking at with the chemicals in the Salton Sea, we can try to determine ways to remove the chemical waste, and stop adding more chemicals to the system. 


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