Less Haze In Smokies Does Not Mean Cleaner Water

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Reduced sulfur dioxide emissions are resulting in less haze but not cleaner water and soil in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a University of Tennessee-Knoxville forester said Monday.

Dr. Stephen Nodvin said a recent study by the University of California-Davis attributes cleaner air to new scrubbers at coal-fired power plants.

Study results were announced Monday in Nashville at the Air and Waste Management Association meeting.

Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen pollution depletes soil nutrients and causes streams to become acidic and unfit for some fish species, Nodvin said, referring to a recent study of the national park’s soil and water.

Haze from sulfur dioxide pollution clears up relatively quickly when emission levels are reduced, but it takes much longer to cut soil and water pollution after decades of sulfur dioxide accumulation, Nodvin said.

Although sulfur dioxide pollution is dropping, he said, nitrogen levels which contribute to acidification are increasing.

“Sulfur dioxide levels are decreasing, resulting in less haze, but that doesn’t mean the soil and water are clearing up,” Nodvin said.

Contact: Dr. Stephen Nodvin (423-974-7126)