TERM:2020-21 Fall
COURSE TITLE: Environmental Chemistry (Soils/Water/Waste)
NAME OF INSTRUCTOR: Lecture: Dr Peter Mahaffy
CREDIT WEIGHT AND WEEKLY TIME DISTRIBUTION: credits 3 (hrs lect 3 - hrs sem 0 - hrs lab 3)
COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course is an introduction to the chemistry of the environment with an emphasis on water, soil and waste. Natural and contaminated surface and ground water will be covered as well as oceans. Soil chemistry will include a discussion of the chemical and physical properties of soil and will include discussion of the fate of and transport of both inorganic and organic pollutants. Chemical aspects of the generation, fate and disposal of wastes including domestic, industrial and nuclear will also be included.

Prerequisites: CHEM 350
  • Baird, C. and M. Cann, Environmental Chemistry (5th Edition), 2011, W.H. Freeman and Company. (Required and will be substantially supplemented with both primary and secondary literature, and other text resources).
  • Supplemental resource: Manahan, S. E. Water Chemistry; CRC Press - Taylor & Francis Group: Boca Raton, 2011. (On reserve in the library for your use)
  • Laboratory handouts will be provided to you, and you should have two copies of a laboratory notebook.
  • Moodle:
  • Also required are laboratory safety glasses and a calculator with log and natural log functions.
Final Exam25%
Case Studies20%
Participation, presentations, homework15%
  • To apply the planetary boundaries framework to an analysis of current planetary challenges related to water, soil, and waste.
  • To develop a detailed understanding of the chemistry of the environment and the behavior of both natural and pollutant species in water, soil and waste.
  • To summarize and analyze challenges related to pollution of water, soil, remediation, and waste management at both a regional and global level.
  • To apply key concepts of green and sustainable chemistry to finding solutions to environmental problems related to pollution of water and soil, and to waste.
  • To explore how chemical industry is tackling problems related to pollution of water and soil, and to waste.
  • To research and communicate compelling local and global examples of environmental chemistry concepts.
  • To discuss toxicology, risk assessment, and risk perception of chemical substances in the environment.
  • To probe the relationship between science and policy in environmental chemistry.
  • To increase familiarity with the value and limitations of modeling as a tool to understand atmospheric environmental processes and the transport, speciation, and fate of organic compounds in the environment.
  • To understand the role humans play in the environment with respect to pollution, waste generation, and remediation.
  • To gain field experience of resource industries important in Western Canada and address environmental chemistry dimensions of those industries in the context of environmental impact assessment.
  • To critically reflect on the professional responsibility of chemists for the materials they make, and to make conscious ethical choices about their potential uses and misuses.
  • To collaborate effectively among students, instructors and professionals working in the area of environmental chemistry.
Laboratory learning objective:
  • To gain competence with standard techniques and instrumentation used to monitor the chemistry of natural and contaminated water and soils, and to measure acute toxicity.
LECTURE OUTLINE: Water Chemistry and Water Pollution
Chemistry of natural waters; Toxicology, pollutants and their effects
  • Course introduction, learning outcomes and learning approaches. Guest expert: Dr. John Wood – water parameters; connecting environmental chemistry and limnology
  • Planetary Boundaries Framework for Environmental Chemistry, Systems Thinking, Green & Sustainable Chemistry. Case study discussion, water parameters and measurements, Possible guest expert – TBA
  • Student presentations on fundamental water parameters, focused on Ch. 10 in Baird.
  • Student presentations on fundamental water parameters, focused on Ch. 11 in Baird. Possible guest expert – TBA
  • Water parameters and water case studies, working session. Possible guest expert – TBA
  • Case study presentations on water topic
Soil Chemistry and Soil Pollution
Chemistry and physical properties of natural soils; Polluted soils and remediation
  • Soil chemistry and soil pollution – introduction
  • Soil topics presentations, Soil topics and consultation on soil case studies
  • Soil chemistry and soil pollution, toxicology,
  • Soil chemistry and soil pollution, sustainable land ecosystems. Case study presentations, soils topic, Possible guest expert – TBA
Solid Waste – Our focus will be on plastics/microplastics in aquatic environments
  • Microplastics topics
  • Lab 1. Full day outdoor lab on Saturday, Sept 12 at Island Lake (NW of Smoky Lake) for freshwater lake measurements and discussion of lake turnover
  • Lab 2. Field measurements at Goldbar Creek to introduce water parameters and their measurements
  • Lab 3. Alkalinity measurements
  • Lab 4. Redox chemistry of waters
  • Lab 5. Soil chemistry parameter measurements
  • Lab 6. Soil chemistry – NPK measurements –this lab will be done as a demonstration lab, with no formal report
  • Lab 7 (tentative). Microtox acute toxicity testing of water (2-week lab)

Required texts, assignments, and grade distributions may vary from one offering of this course to the next. Please consult the course instructor for up to date details.

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