Chemical and Pathogen Transport and Fate
Numerous human activities (food production, energy and mineral production, manufacturing, waste generation) can create impacts that are potentially deleterious to human health and the environment. The impact on human health and the environment of contaminants (organic and inorganic chemicals and pathogens) released into the environment is of great interest and concern to scientists, policy makers, and the general public. To assess the potential impact of and the risk associated with these contaminants, we need to understand their behavior in the environment. This is the focus of the Contaminant Transport and Fate program in the Department. Specifically, the many physical, chemical, and microbiological processes and factors that influence the speciation, transport and fate of contaminants in soil and water are under investigation through a combination of laboratory and field experimentation. Areas of investigation include:
dynamics of immiscible-liquid contaminants, bioavailability and biodegradation
of organic contaminants, liquid-phase transport of organic and inorganic
chemicals, vapor-phase transport of volatile organic contaminants in
the vadose zone, radionuclide sorption/desorption kinetics, xenobiotic
transformation reactions, and development and application of mathematical
models for describing contaminant transport and fate Brusseau, Chorover, Maier).
- the fate
of inorganic nitrogen compounds in soil systems (Walworth, Sanchez, Silvertooth)
environmental physical chemistry of fluids and organic compounds in
small pores, porous minerals and polymer networks (Chorover and Curry)
- the occurrence and fate of human pathogens of bacterial or viral origin (Gerba, Pepper, and Brusseau).