Environmental quiz: are you well-informed?


1. Perchlorate, a toxic chemical used in the manufacture of rocket fuel, has been detected in drinking water in how many U.S. states?

(a) five; (b) 25; (c) 32; (d) 43; (e) 50

2. Where in the U.S. can tap water be ignited by a lit match, allegedly the result of methane contamination caused by ‘fracking’ for natural gas in the vicinity? (a) Alabama; (b) Virginia; (c) Pennsylvania; (d) Tennessee; (e) Michigan

3. Worldwide, the leading cause of death and illness is:

(a) AIDS; (b) diarrhea; (c) tuberculosis; (d) hepatitis; (e) malaria
4. Worldwide, about how many people drink, bathe, and cook using contaminated water?
(a) 10 million; (b) 40 million; (c) 100 million; (d) 900 million; (e) 1.5 billion
5. About how much bottled water sold in the U.S. comes from municipal taps?
(a) 10-15 percent; (b) 20-25 percent; (c) 25-45 percent; (d) 50-60 percent; (e) 65-75 percent
6. Which of the following possible contaminants of municipal drinking water is screened for using

traditional testing methods?
(a) synthetic estrogen; (b) anti-depressants; (c) cialis; (d) viagra; (e) none of the above
7. Blooms of cyanobacteria, a blue-green algae, are becoming increasingly common in ponds and lakes.

These organisms produce the environmental toxin beta-methylamino-L-alanine, or BMAA. A substantial body of evidence indicates that swallowing, breathing, or eating seafood containing BMAA may increase an individual’s likelihood of developing neurological disorders, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease. What other source of BMAA has long been associated with neurological disease?

(a) kiwi fruit; (b) rattlesnake meat; (c) wisteria seeds; (d) Asian chickpeas; (e) pickled pig’s feet 8. The single largest source of methyl-mercury exposure to U.S. citizens is:
(a) channel catfish; (b) eels; (c) red snapper; (d) Pacific tuna; (e) sardines
9. The source of most elemental mercury contamination in the atmosphere is: (a) wood product

combustion; (b) coal combustion; (c) diesel engine exhaust; (d) natural gas combustion; (e) gasoline combustion

10. Opelika, Auburn and Loachapoka get their water supply from near the mouth of what stream?

(a) Osanippa Creek; (b) Saugahatchee Creek; (c) Halawakee Creek; (d) Wacoochee Creek; (e) Mill Creek

11. The Salem Landfill is situated in the watershed of which of those in no. 10?
12. Of those creeks listed in no. 10, which is the longest?
13. The cottonmouth water moccasin occurs in Lee County. How many other aquatic snakes might be

expected to occur in the county?
(a) two; (b) three; (c) four; (d) five; (e) six
14. What company is proposing a project that many believe would threaten the world’s largest

underground freshwater reservoir?
(a) The Southern Company; (b) TransCanada; (c) British Petroleum; (d) CITGO; (e) Exxon-Mobil 15. The single largest source of America’s drinking water is:
(a) Midwestern prairie land; (b) National Forest land; (c) state-owned forest land; (d) commercially-

owned forest land; (e) individually-owned forest lands.
Answers: 1 –d; 2 – c; 3 – b; 4 – d; 5 – c; 6 – e; 7 – d; 8 – d; 9 – b; 10 – c; 11 – c; 12 – b; 13 – d; 14 – b;

15 –b
Scoring: 12-15 correct, Congratulations! You are a well-informed environmentalist; 9-11 correct, not

bad for college graduates; 6-8 correct, good guesser; 4-5 correct, average for a high school student; fewer than 4 correct, shame on you.

Bob Mount is a Professor Emeritus with the Dept of Zoology and Entomology, Auburn Univ. He is also co-chairman of the Opelika Order of Geezers, well-known local think tank and political clearing house. He writes about birds, snakes, turtles, bugs and assorted conservation topics.


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