a good anthropogenic indicator needed

McCarty and Peters McCarty_and_Peters at compuserve.com
Fri Jan 25 20:28:50 EST 2002


>> In an attempt to determine immediate human-induced impact on the
near-shore water quality, I am just beginning to investigate an appropriate
method for assessing this.  Caffeine is one such indicator, but without
very much investigation, I understand this is a rather expensive method. <<

One, what do you call "expensive?"  Yes, an analysis for caffeine is going
to cost more than simple nutrients like N and P.  A simple HPLC method
should not break the bank and would be easy to set up.

Two, caffeine is not necessarily a conservative tracer in the environment,
nor is it easy to determine the relationship between observed caffeine
concentrations and other parameters.  For example, it may be indicative of
the transfer of groundwater from septic systems or a point source input
from a POTW.  It says nothing about surface runoff or other sources.  But
even within a septic context, there are bound to be major differences in
the inputs to different septic systems, transfer rates to the environment,
etc.  Not to mention those folks who have gone decaff.

Ad of course, it has not been demonstrated to be harmful to the reef
environment.  However, it will act nothing like many other anthropogenic
inputs that clearly are toxic.

I suggest you keep looking...

Chip McCarty
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