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Glossary of Terms for Water Monitoring

Definitions of Parameters  (Courtesy of the IOWA DNR)
                                                http://wqm.igsb.uiowa.edu/glossary/definitions_of_parameters.htm

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

A

acenaphthene - Found in petroleum residues. It is used in manufacturing plastics, and as an insecticide and fungicide.

acetochlor (Harness) - A selective pre-emergent soybean herbicide in the chloracetanilide family.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

Action Level - Regulatory levels recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for enforcement by the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture when pesticide residues occur in food or feed commodities for reasons other than direct application of a pesticide.

alachlor (Lasso) - A common herbicide that is an acetanilide.  Measured in g/L or ppb.  The MCL for alachlor is 2 g/L or ppb. 

alkalinity - The capacity of water to neutralize acids. This capacity is caused by the water's content of carbonate, bicarbonate, hydroxide and occasionally borate, silicate, and phosphate. Expressed in milligrams per liter (mg/L) of equivalent calcium carbonate. 

alpha-BHC - An alpha isomer of benzene hexachloride insecticide that is a chlorinated hydrocarbon.  Alpha-BHC is no longer produced/sold for domestic use.   Measured in g/L or ppb.

ammonia nitrogen (NH4-N) - The concentration of ionized and un-ionized ammonia in water; Ionized (NH4+) and un-ionized (NH3) forms are products of the decomposition of organic matter. Reported as NH4-N or ammonia as nitrogen (mg/L). See state standards.  Measured in mg/L or ppm.

anthracene - A colorless, crystalline powder obtained from coal tar and having a violet fluorescence. Used chiefly as a source of anthraquinone and alizarin, and in the process of measuring radioactive materials.

antimony -Occurs naturally in soils, groundwater and surface waters and is often used in the flame retardant industry, glass, batteries, fireworks, and explosives.  Antimony may enter drinking water through natural weathering of rock, industrial production, municipal waste disposal, or manufacturing processes.  Measured in mg/L or ppm.  The MCL for antimony is 0.006 mg/L or ppm.

aroclor-1016 - A polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB).   Measured in g/L or ppb.

aroclor-1221 - A polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB).   Measured in g/L or ppb.

aroclor-1234 - A polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB).   Measured in g/L or ppb.

aroclor-1242 - A polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB).   Measured in g/L or ppb.

aroclor-1248 - A polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB).   Measured in g/L or ppb.

aroclor-1254 - A polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB).   Measured in g/L or ppb.

aroclor-1260 - A polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB).   Measured in g/L or ppb.

arsenic - Sources include natural deposits, use as a pesticidal agent, and from phosphate fertilizers containing arsenic. Measured in mg/L or ppm.  The MCL for arsenic is 0.05 mg/L or ppm.

atrazine (AAtrex) - A common corn herbicide that is in the triazine family of herbicides.  Measured in g/L or ppb.  The MCL for atrazine is 3 g/L or ppb.

B

bentazon (Basagran) - A selective post-emergent herbicide used to control broadleaf weeds.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

beryllium - Occurs naturally in soils, groundwater and surface waters and is often used in electrical equipment and electrical components. It generally enters water from runoff from mining operations, discharge from processing plants, and improper waste disposal.  Measured in mg/L or ppm.  The MCL for beryllium is 0.004 mg/L or ppm.

beta-BHC - No longer produced/sold for domestic use; a beta isomer of benzene hexachloride; insecticide; chlorinated hydrocarbon.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

butylate (Sutan) - A selective herbicide used for grassy weeds.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

C

cadmium - A naturally occurring trace metal that accumulates in the environment, causes corrosion of galvanized pipes, and can be toxic to humans and aquatic life.  Phosphate fertilizers are a major source of cadmium input to agricultural soils.  Measured in mg/L or ppm.  The MCL for cadmium is 0.005 mg/L or ppm.

carbazole - A water-insoluble compound, usually found along with anthracene in coal tar, or synthesized. Used chiefly in the manufacture of dyes.

carbofuran (Furadan) - A carbamate that is a systemic broad-spectrum insecticide and nematocide.  Use of carbofuran has been canceled in the US.  Measured in g/L or ppb.  The MCL for carbofuran is 40 g/L or ppb.

carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand (5-day; CBOD) - The amount of oxygen that is removed from aquatic environments rich in organic material by the metabolic requirements of aerobic microorganisms over a 5-day period.  Measured in mg/L or ppm.

chlordane - A contact insecticide that is a chlorinated hydrocarbon (a chemical containing only chlorine, carbon, and hydrogen). These include a class of persistent, broad-spectrum insecticides that linger in the environment and accumulate in the food chain.  Used for the control of termites and wood treatment.  No longer registered for use in the U.S.  Measured in g/L or ppb.  The MCL for chlordane is 2  g/L or ppb.

chlorpyrifos (Lorsban, Dursban) - An insecticide.  Lorsban is used to control rootworm and cutworms, and Dursban is used to control ants.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

chromium - A naturally occurring trace metal that can be toxic to humans and aquatic life.  Sources of chromium in surface waters include wastewater from electroplating operations, leather tanning industries, and textile manufacturing.  Measured in g/L or ppb.  The MCL for chromium is 0.1 mg/L or ppm.

copper - A naturally occurring trace metal.  At low concentrations, copper is an essential nutrient for both plants and animals, but at higher concentrations can be toxic to aquatic animals, aquatic plants and humans.  Measured in mg/L or ppm.  The Action Level for copper is 1.3 mg/L or ppm.

chlorophyll a - A green pigment used by algae and green plants during the process of photosynthesis to convert light, carbon dioxide, and water to sugar. Chlorophyll a concentration is often used as an approximate index of algal biomass.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

cyanazine (Bladex) - A common corn herbicide that is in the triazine family of herbicides.  Cyanazine is being phased out of production by 2001.  Cyanazine has a  Health Advisory Level of 1 g/L or ppb.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

cyanide - A powerful poison that is toxic to humans and aquatic life. Measured in mg/L or ppm.  The MCL for cyanideA is 0.2 mg/L or ppm.

D

delta-BHC-  A chlorinated hydrocarbon that is an insecticide. A delta isomer of benzene hexachloride.  No longer produced/sold for domestic use.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

des-ethyl atrazine - A degradate product or metabolite of atrazine.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

des-isopropyl atrazine - A degradate product or metabolite of atrazine.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

dicamba (Banvel) - A benzoic acid herbicide that is used to control perennial broadleaf weeds.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

dieldrin - An insecticide.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

di-n-octyl phthalate - A colorless, oily liquid used as a plasticizer in plastic products manufacture.

dissolved orthophosphate (as P) - The phosphorous content of all material that passes through a filter.  Measured in mg/L or ppm.

dissolved oxygen (DO) - The amount of oxygen dissolved in water.  Measured in mg/L or ppm.  Low DO can be harmful to aquatic organisms. See state standards for rules on this.

E

endosulfan I - A sulfurous acid ester of a chlorinated cyclic diol that is an insecticide/ acaricide.  An acaricide is a material used primarily to control plant-feeding mites, especially spider mites.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

endosulfan II - A sulfurous acid ester of a chlorinated cyclic diol that is an insecticide/ acaricide.  An acaricide is a material used primarily to control plant-feeding mites, especially spider mites.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

endosulfan sulfate - A degradate product or metabolite of endosulfan.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

endrin - A chlorinated hydrocarbon (a chemical containing only chlorine, carbon, and hydrogen). These include a class of persistent, broad-spectrum insecticides that linger in the environment and accumulate in the food chain.  Endrin is no longer registered for use.  Measured in g/L or ppb.  The MCL  for endrin is 2  g/L or ppb. 

endrin aldehyde - Measured in g/L or ppb.

enterococci - A subgroup of bacteria in the fecal streptococcus group; inhabits the gastrointestinal tract of warm-blooded animals.  The concentration of enterococcus bacteria is an indicator of the probability of contamination of surface water by microbial pathogens.  Reported in Colony Forming Units/100 mL of sample (CFU/100 mL).

Escherichia coli (E. coli) - A type of coliform bacteria present in the gastrointestinal tract of warm-blooded animals.  The concentration of E. coli bacteria is an indicator of the probability of contamination of surface water by microbial pathogens.  Reported in Colony Forming Units/100 mL of sample (CFU/100 mL).

ethoprop (Mocap) - An organophosphate that is a soil insecticide and nematocide.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

F

fecal coliform - A type of bacteria found in the intestinal tracts of mammals. The presence of fecal coliform bacteria in water is an indicator of pollution and possible contamination by pathogens.  Reported in Colony Forming Units/100 mL of sample (CFU/100 mL).

flow - The volume of water that passes a point within a given period of time.  Measured in cubic feet per second (cfs).

fluorene - A major component of fossil fuels and their derivatives and is also a byproduct of coal-conversion and energy-related industries. It is commonly found in vehicle exhaust emissions, crude oils, motor oils, coal and oil combustion products, waste incineration, and industrial effluents.

fonofos (Dyfonate) - A soil insecticide for corn borers, rootworms, and cutworms.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

4,4'-DDD--1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis (p-chlorophenyl) ethane is an insecticide.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

4,4'-DDE--1,1-(dichlorethenylidene)bis[4-chlorobenzene] - A degradate product or metabolite of DDT.   Measured in g/L or ppb.

4,4'-DDT (dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane) - An insecticide, DDT accumulates in the fatty tissue of warm-blooded animals.   All uses of DDT in the U.S. have been banned since 1973.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

4-methylphenol (p-cresol) - Appears in a viscous liquid form that is insoluble in water.  Is used for stabilizer of synthetic rubber and as an antioxidant for dry rubber and latex compounds.

 G

gamma-BHC (Lindane) - When 99% pure, gamma-BHC is known as Lindane, and is a chlorinated hydrocarbon.  The MCL for gamma-BHC is 0.2 g/L or ppb.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

H

hardness as CaCO3 - The total concentration of calcium and magnesium ions in water; reported in mg/L equivalent of calcium carbonate (CaCO3).  Measured in mg/L or ppm.

Health Advisory Level (HAL) - Health advisories provide additional information on certain contaminants.  Health advisories are guidance values based on health effects other than cancer.  These values are set for different durations of exposure (e.g., one day, ten day, longer term, and lifetime).

heptachlor - An insecticide used for termite control and seed/seed furrow treatment; a chlorinated hydrocarbon (a chemical containing only chlorine, carbon, and hydrogen) that lingers in the environment and accumulates in the food chain.  Measured in g/L or ppb.  The MCL for heptachlor is 0.4 g/L or ppb. 

heptachloraldrin - Measured in g/L or ppb.

hexachlorobenzene - A white crystalline solid that does not occur naturally in the environment. It is formed as a by-product while making other chemicals, in the waste streams of chloralkali and wood-preserving plants, and when burning municipal waste.

hexachlorobutadiene (perchlorobutadiene) - A colorless liquid with a turpentine-like odor that is not found naturally in the environment. It is formed when other chemicals are made.  It is mainly used to make rubber compounds. It is also used as a solvent, and to make lubricants, as a heat transfer liquid, and as a hydraulic fluid.

hexachlorocylopentadiene (HCCPD) - A dense oily liquid with a pungent, unpleasant odor. It is an intermediate in the production of compounds used as dyes, resins, pharmaceuticals, flame retardants, insecticides, and other products.

hexachloroethane - Used in organic synthesis as a retarding agent in fermentation, as a camphor substitute in nitrocellulose, in pyrotechnics and smoke devices, in explosives, and as a solvent.

I

isophorone - A man-made chemical used commercially.  It is used as a solvent in some printing inks, paints, lacquers, and adhesives.

indicator bacteria - Bacteria that normally are not pathogenic (disease causing) but serve as indicators of certain types of pollution such as sewage or gasoline spills.

L

lead - A naturally occurring trace metal that accumulates in the environment and can be toxic to humans and aquatic life.  Important sources of lead in surface waters include steel and iron industries, lead production, and processing operations, and urban runoff.  Measured in mg/L or ppm.  The Action Level for lead is 0.015 mg/L or ppm. 

M

Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) - The maximum permissible level of a contaminant in water which is delivered to any user of a public water system. MCLs are enforceable standards. The margins of safety in MCLGs ensure that exceeding the MCL slightly does not pose significant risk to public health.

Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) - The maximum level of a contaminant in drinking water at which no known or anticipated adverse effect on the health effect of persons would occur, and which allows for an adequate margin of safety. MCLGs are non-enforceable public health goals.

mercury - A naturally occurring trace metal that accumulates in the environment, and bioaccumulates and biomagnifies in the aquatic food chain.  Mercury can be toxic to humans and aquatic life.  Copper usually enters water as a result of improper waste disposal.  Measured in mg/L or ppm.  The MCL for mercury is 0.002 mg/L or ppm.

methoxychlor (Morlate) - An insecticide that is diphenyl chloride.  Measured in mg/L or ppm.  The MCL for methoxychlor is 40 g/L or ppb.

metolachlor (Dual) - A common herbicide in the chloracetanilide family of herbicides.  Measured in g/L or ppb.  Metolachlor has a Health Advisory Level of 100 g/L or ppb.

metribuzin (Sencor) - A common herbicide in the triazinone family of herbicides.  Used to control grasses and broadleaf weeds.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

N

naphthalene - A white, crystalline powder, is used as a moth repellent and in the manufacture of synthetic resins.

nickel - Occurs naturally in soils, groundwater and surface waters and is often used in electroplating, stainless steel, and alloy products. It generally gets into water from mining and refining operations.  Measured in g/L or ppb.  The MCL for nickel is 0.1 mg/L or ppm.  The Health Advisory Level is 200 g/L or ppb.

nitrate + nitrite nitrogen (NO3-N+NO2-N) - Oxidized, inorganic forms of nitrogen in water which result from the biochemical process of nitrification.  Nitrite is an intermediate product which is typically present only in minute quantities in surface waters. Sources include fertilizer, sewage and animal wastes. Measured in mg/L or ppm.  The MCL (Maximum Contaminant Level) is 10 mg/L for NO3-N. 

nitrobenzene - A colorless to pale yellow, oily, highly toxic liquid, used in the manufacture of aniline, benzidine, and other organic chemicals. 

P

pH - The measure of the hydrogen-ion (H+) activity. Provides an indication of a solution's acidity or alkalinity. Scale from 0-14, and 7 is neutral.

PPB - Parts per billion.  Is equivalent to micrograms per liter (g/L).

PPM - Parts per million.  Is equivalent to milligrams per liter (mg/L).

pentachlorophenol (PCP) - A chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticide and fungicide.  It is primarily used to protect timber from fungal rot and wood-boring insects, but may also be used as a pre-harvest defoliant in cotton, a general pre-emergence herbicide, and as a biocide in industrial water systems.

phenol - A primarily a man-made chemical used in the manufacturing of plastics, although it is also naturally found in animal wastes and decomposing organic materials.

phorate (Thimet) - An organophosphate that is a systemic and soil insecticide.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

phytoplankton composition - That portion of the plankton community comprised of small, usually microscopic plants (such as algae), found in lakes, reservoirs, and other bodies of water.

picloram (Tordon) - A systemic herbicide used to control deep-rooted broadleaf weeds.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

pyrene - Found in coal tar and believed to be carcinogenic.

S

Secchi disk - A flat, black and white disc that used to measure the transparency of water.  The disk is lowered into water by a rope until a pattern on the disk is no longer visible. 

Secchi depth - The depth at which the Secchi disk disappears from sight when lowered into a water body.

selenium - Occurs naturally in food and soils and is used in electronics, photocopy operations, the manufacture of glass, chemicals, drugs, and as a fungicide and a feed additive.  Measured in mg/L or ppm.  The MCL for selenium is 0.05 mg/L or ppm.

silica (Si) - Used by photoplankton diatoms.   Measured in mg/L or ppm.

silver - Measured in mg/L or ppm.

simazine (Princep) - A herbicide in the triazine family that is used to control annual grasses and broadleaf weeds in corn, lawns, golf courses, tree farms, etc.  Measured in g/L or ppb.  The MCL for simazine is 4 g/L or ppb.

specific conductance at 25 degrees C (mho) - A measure of the electrical conductance of a substance (water) at a standard temperature of 25 Celsius.

T

temperature - The measure of the thermal energy (heat) of a substance. Measured in Celsius.

terbufos (Counter) - An organophosphate that is a systemic insecticide and nematicide for corn root and soil insects.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

thallium - Found naturally in soils and is used in electronics, pharmaceuticals, and the manufacture of glass and alloys. The MCL for thallium is 0.002 mg/L or ppm.

total Kjeldahl nitrogen - Nitrogen in the form of organic proteins or their decomposition product ammonia, as measured by the Kjeldahl Method. The Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen (TKN) method involves digestion and distillation to determine both organically bound nitrogen and ammonia (NH3); an indicator of the nutrient enrichment of surface waters.  Measured in mg/L or ppm.

total dissolved solids (TDS) - The concentration of dissolved inorganic chemical constituents in water.  Measured in mg/L or ppm.

total phosphate (as P) - The total amount of phosphate, including dissolved and particulate forms, reported as phosphorus (P).  Meausred in mg/L or ppm.

total suspended solids (TSS) - A measure of the suspended organic and inorganic solids in water.  Measured in mg/L or ppm.

toxaphene - A chemical that causes adverse health effects in domestic water supplies and is toxic to fresh water and marine aquatic life.  Toxaphene was used as an insecticide for cotton and vegetables, and on livestock and poultry.  The MCL for toxaphene is 3 g/L or ppb.

trifluralin (Treflan) - A common pre-emergent herbicide in the dinitroaniline family of herbicides.  Measured in g/L or ppb.

2-chlorophenol (chlorophenol) - A liquid at room temperature, but all the other chlorophenols are solids. The most generally useful property of the chlorinated phenols is their toxicity to various organisms: they and compounds made from them are used to control bacteria, fungi, insects, and weeds. 

2,4-D - A herbicide used extensively on corn and to control algae in reservoirs.  When conditions are favorable, it may get into drinking water by runoff into surface water or by leaching into groundwater.  Measured in g/L or ppb.  The MCL for 2,4-D is 70 g/L or ppb.

2,4,5-TP (Silvex) - A herbicide effective on woody plants. Commercially available product can contain dioxin (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin or TCDD). When conditions are favorable, it may get into drinking water by runoff into surface water or leaching into groundwater.  Measured in g/L or ppb.  The MCL for 2,4,5-TP is 50 g/L or ppb.

turbidity - A measure of the optical properties of water that cause light to be reflected or scattered.  Causes of high turbidity include organic matter, algae, sediment and solids that do not settle out of the water; measured in Nephelometric Turbidity Units (NTU).

Z

zinc - Measured in mg/L or ppm.

zooplankton composition - That portion of the plankton community comprised of small, usually microscopic animals (such as protozoans), found in lakes and reservoirs.

Nova home http://www.science.org.au/nova/017/017glo.htm#eutrophication 

FROM NOVA Published byAustralian Academy of Science

Glossary | Toxic algal blooms a sign of rivers under stress

bloom. A rapid temporary increase in the population of aquatic photosynthetic microorganisms (eg, phytoplankton or cyanobacteria) to the extent that the water becomes discoloured and, if the microorganisms are toxin-producers, unfit for drinking.

ecosystem. A term used to encompass all the organisms in a community together with the associated physical environmental factors with which they interact (eg, a rockpool ecosystem, a forest ecosystem).

eutrophication. An increase in the nutrient content of a body of water, occurring either naturally or as a result of human activities. It often leads to a rapid increase (bloom) in growth of algae. The death and eventual decomposition of the algae results in a lowering of the oxygen level until the water cannot support organisms that require oxygen.

photosynthesis. The biochemical process in which green plants (and some microorganisms) use energy from light to synthesise carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water.

 

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