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January 2, 2007 > A smelly sound

A smelly sound

SEATTLE (AP), Dec 30 _ Researchers at the University of Washington say all that holiday baking and eating has an environmental impact: Puget Sound is being flavored by cinnamon and vanilla.

``Even something as fun as baking for the holiday season has an environmental effect,'' said Rick Keil, an associate professor of chemical oceanography. ``When we bake and change the way we eat, it has an impact on what the environment sees. To me it shows the connectedness.''

Keil and UW researcher Jacquelyn Neibauer's weekly tests of treated sewage sent into the sound from the West Point treatment plant in Magnolia showed cinnamon, vanilla and artificial vanilla levels rose between Nov. 14 and Dec. 9, with the biggest spike right after Thanksgiving.

Natural vanilla showed the largest increase, ``perhaps indicative of more home baking using natural vanilla,'' Keil and Neibauer wrote.

So far, the research has turned up no evidence that snickerdoodles are harming sea creatures, but the research does lead to some serious environmental questions.

Fish rely heavily on their sense of smell to locate food, for example, and in the case of salmon, to find their way back to their home stream to spawn.

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