Butter – Think Global

Butter Think Global

Music; Ambience: Cow mooing

What goes into a cow, comes out in its milk and its butter. This bit of logic has helped scientists monitor the pollution in our environment. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Dr. Kevin Jones of Lancaster University has been developing a pollution-monitoring process that uses butter as a source.

KJ: “The concentrations of chemicals that we find in butter are influenced partly by the cow, by the processes within the animal, by metabolism of the chemical by the animal. But for substances which are not metabolized very readily– and many Persistent Organic Pollutants are in that category-what we actually see by measuring the butter is an index of what they’ve eaten. And that, frequently is the pasture, is the grassland, and the grassland itself receives chemicals from the atmosphere that are rained out and accumulated on the grass surface. We’d done a series of studies for the United Kingdom government to try to understand what was controlling the concentrations of chemicals in butter and milk. And actually the main result we found was that there’s a very good relationship between air concentrations that we measured and the grass that cows were grazing on, and then the, concentrations of the chemicals we measured in their milk or in their butter. So, we hit on the idea if we take a butter sample in New Zealand or in Japan or Russia or the United Kingdom, that that would tell us something about the ambient environment that those cows were grazing in. What we did was to take about a hundred samples of butter from different parts of the world and be sure that it was from the local region. And, that by analyzing the butter we would have an index for the local environment.”

We’ll find out what butter has revealed about pollution in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation.

Butter - Think Global

Scientists are analyzing butter to better understand pollutants found in the grass that cows feed upon.
Air Date:05/18/2015
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Butter Think Global

Music; Ambience: Cow mooing

What goes into a cow, comes out in its milk and its butter. This bit of logic has helped scientists monitor the pollution in our environment. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Dr. Kevin Jones of Lancaster University has been developing a pollution-monitoring process that uses butter as a source.

KJ: "The concentrations of chemicals that we find in butter are influenced partly by the cow, by the processes within the animal, by metabolism of the chemical by the animal. But for substances which are not metabolized very readily-- and many Persistent Organic Pollutants are in that category-what we actually see by measuring the butter is an index of what they've eaten. And that, frequently is the pasture, is the grassland, and the grassland itself receives chemicals from the atmosphere that are rained out and accumulated on the grass surface. We'd done a series of studies for the United Kingdom government to try to understand what was controlling the concentrations of chemicals in butter and milk. And actually the main result we found was that there's a very good relationship between air concentrations that we measured and the grass that cows were grazing on, and then the, concentrations of the chemicals we measured in their milk or in their butter. So, we hit on the idea if we take a butter sample in New Zealand or in Japan or Russia or the United Kingdom, that that would tell us something about the ambient environment that those cows were grazing in. What we did was to take about a hundred samples of butter from different parts of the world and be sure that it was from the local region. And, that by analyzing the butter we would have an index for the local environment."

We'll find out what butter has revealed about pollution in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation.