A study by Baylor University researchers shows drought conditions adversely affect water quality and make some chemicals more toxic and more likely to accumulate in fish.
Most importantly, the study found, drought conditions exacerbate the magnitudes of the natural pH shifts in the water, and some contaminants in water, such as ammonia, are more toxic to aquatic life depending on the pH level, a Baylor release said Tuesday.
"The importance of this work is it shows that we may be underestimating or overestimating the adverse effects of some chemicals on fish," said study co-author Bryan Brooks, associate professor of environmental science and biomedical studies.
The researchers took samples over the course of two years at 23 streams across the southern United States and found that in a year that was one of the driest on record, the fluctuations of the water's pH level were extreme and coincided with increased toxicity to aquatic life.
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