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.

Emerging contaminants

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 there 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

Wastewater treatment

Working with the UK Water Industry, where there remains a requirement to understand how biological wastewater treatment may operated to achieve maximum removal of trace organic and metallic contaminants. At present, projects are focussed in two areas, related to efficiency of processes in removing metals and organic contaminants along with studies into the impact of ligands in influencing the toxicity of metals in wastewater effluents. For further information on these projects contact Dr Scrimshaw.

Publications

de Polo, A. and Scrimshaw M.D. Challenges for the development of a biotic ligand model predicting copper toxicity in estuaries and seas. Environ. Toxicol. Chem., in press.

Turner, T., Cartmell, E., Lester, J.N., Casse, F., Comber, S.D.W and Scrimshaw, M.D. (2011). The Pharmaceutical use of Permethrin: Sources and Behavior during Municipal Sewage Treatment. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol., 61, 193–201.

McAdam, E., Bagnall, J., Koh, Y.K.K., Chiu, T.Y., Scrimshaw, M.D., Lester, J.N., and Cartmell, E. (2011). Fate of alkylphenolic compounds during activated sludge treatment: Impact of loading and organic composition. Environ. Sci. Technol., 45, 248-254.

Ziolko, D., Martin, O.V., Scrimshaw, M.D. and Lester, J.N. (2011). An Evaluation of Metal Removal During Wastewater Treatment: the Potential to Achieve More Stringent Final Effluent Standards. Crit. Rev. Environ. Sci. Technol., 41, 733–769.

Scrimshaw, M.D. (2011). Comment on “Toxicological relevance of emerging contaminants for drinking water quality” by M. Schriks, M.B. Heringa, M.M.E. van der Kooi, P. de Voogt and A.P. van Wezel [Water Research 44 (2010) 461-476]. Water Res., 45, 3012-3013.

Janna, H., Scrimshaw, M.D., Williams, R.J., Churchley, J. and Sumpter, J.P. (2011). From Dishwasher to Tap? Xenobiotic Substances Benzotriazole and Tolyltriazole in the Environment. Environ. Sci. Technol., 45, 3858–3864.

Constantino, C., Scrimshaw, M.D., Comber, S. and Churchley, J. (2011). An evaluation of biotic ligand models predicting acute copper toxicity to Daphnia magna in wastewater effluent. Environ. Toxicol. Chem., 30, 852–860.

Dominguez-Chicas, A. and Scrimshaw, M.D. (2010) Hazard and risk assessment for indirect potable re-use schemes: an approach for use in developing Water Safety Plans. Water Res., in press. DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2010.07.007

McAdam, E.J., Bagnall, J.P, Koh, Y.K.K., Chiu, T.Y., Pollard, S., Scrimshaw, M.D., Lester, J.N. and Cartmell, E (2010). Removal of Steroid Estrogens in Carbonaceous and Nitrifying Activated Sludge Processes. Chemosphere, 81, 1-6.

Muchuweti, M., Birkett, J.W., Chinyanga, E., Zvauya, R., Scrimshaw, M.D. and Lester, J.N. (2006). Heavy metal content of vegetables irrigated with mixtures of wastewater and sewage sludge in Zimbabwe: Implications for human health. Agric. Ecosys. Environ., 112, 41-48.

McAdam, E.J., Bagnall, J.P, Koh, Y.K.K., Chiu, T.Y., Pollard, S., Scrimshaw, M.D., Lester, J.N. and Cartmell, E (2010). Removal of Steroid Estrogens in Carbonaceous and Nitrifying Activated Sludge Processes. Chemosphere, 81, 1-6

Langford K.H., Scrimshaw M.D. and Lester J.N. (2007). The impact of process variables on the removal of PBDEs and NPEOs during simulated activated sludge treatment. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol., 53, 1-7.

Gomes, R.L., Birkett, J.W., Scrimshaw, M.D. and Lester, J.N. (2005). Simultaneous determination of natural and synthetic steroid estrogens and their conjugates in aqueous matrices by liquid chromatography / mass spectrometry. Int. J. Environ. Anal. Chem., 85, 1-14.

Page last updated: Friday 25 May 2012