Chemicals in the Environment
Our Chemicals in the Environment group focuses on two main research themes:
Understanding the fate and behaviour of chemicals in the environment
With a population of over 60 million, the UK produces around 3.6 billion tonnes of sewage a year (1½ times the volume of Lake Victoria, the largest of all African lakes) – its treatment presents a huge challenge, exacerbated by the occurrence of often hazardous chemicals. Although the concentration of contaminants in this environment is often studied, little is really understood about factors controlling their long term fate and impacts – this is the focus of our research. To tackle this problem, we use chemical measures and bioanalytical techniques to better understand the impact of contaminants.
Dr. Mark Scrimshaw is developing this research theme through collaboration within and beyond the Institute and opportunities to link this understanding to the more complex issues surrounding human health exist through collaboration with Dr. Ariana Zeka.
Clean and clean-up technologies
The development of clean technologies involves optimisation and improved control of chemical reactions in existing processes and the development of new processes to achieve environmentally clean reactions. In particular, Dr. Abdul Chaudhary's work on the development of a concentrator cell to improve metal recovery systems from dilute solutions for the control of industrial pollution received the Queen’s Award for Environmental Achievement.
There has been significant research undertaken into the occurrence of "emerging contaminants" in the environment, which includes compounds used in pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPC). Although there is information on their concentrations in the environment, little is really understood about factors controlling their long term fate and impacts. Research to address these issues is required to address key questions in this area and it is hoped to begin studies to address these questions during 2008:
How does sorption to soils / sediments influence bioavailability (and hence degradation rates) with time?
What soil / sediment components are involved in binding of pharmaceuticals? (TOC is not a good predictor)
For further information on these projects contact Dr Scrimshaw