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Forensic geochemistry

General data

Course ID: 1300-WFRG Erasmus code / ISCED: 07.303 / (0532) Earth science
Course title: Forensic geochemistry Name in Polish: Forsenic geochemistry
Department: Faculty of Geology
Course groups: (in Polish) Przedmioty do wyboru na II, III i IV roku studiów I-go stopnia na kierunku geologia stosowana
(in Polish) Przedmioty do wyboru na studiach drugiego stopnia na kierunku geologia poszukiwawcza
ECTS credit allocation (and other scores): 3.00
Language: English
Type of course:

elective courses

Prerequisites (description):

It is assumed that the student has knowledge of natural sciences and knows the terminology of geology at the bachelor's level. Basic knowledge in organic geochemistry is also helpful.

Short description:

The course covers all issues in the field of forensic geochemistry, in particular the use and interpretation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heterocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polymers, heavy metals and radioactive isotopes. Forensic geochemistry combines experimental analytical procedures with scientific principles derived from the disciplines of organic and environmental geochemistry and hydrogeology. Forensic geochemistry begins where common environmental procedures do not deliver detailed results, due to their limitation in description and quantification. The results of such procedures are used to identify the petroleum- and polymer-related and other potentially hazardous environmental contaminants and for determining their sources and time of release. The main scope of forensic geochemistry methods is to find out the cause and the causer of an environmental pollution to solve cases of environmental liability.

Full description:

Course comprises:

1. Properties of pure substances: phase transfer, diffusion, sorption, acid-base chemistry

2. Polymers: homopolymers and copolymers

3. Thermodynamics and kinetics of chemical transformations of organic pollutants: hydrolysis, redox transformations and photochemistry

4. Biological transformations of organic pollutants

5. Sampling and analysis of organic and inorganic (plastic) pollutants

6. Human exposure to PAHs and effects

7. Source of PAHs

8. Analytical methods

9. PAHs in air, water, soil, sediment, sewage sludge and food

10. PAHs in coal and petroleum products

11. Toxicity of PAHs

12. Radioactive isotopes application in environmental research:

I. Mining impact on the environment - radioactive hazard. Measurements of lead and uranium-series isotopes using ICP-MS (theory), and alpha/gamma spectroscopy (exercise in the lab in the ING PAN). Selected examples: uranium and lead mines, phosphogypsum waste dumps.

II. Post-Chernobyl pollution monitoring - spatial distribution of cesium 137Cs in Europe and Poland; distribution and migration of 137Cs in the aquatic ecosystems; bioaccumulation of cesium isotopes. The other side of the coin - cesium 137Cs as a useful tool in dating lake sediments and as a soil erosion tracer.

III. Fukushima pollution monitoring techniques

13. Heavy metal contamination in soils and water – migration of heavy metals in soil and water. Kinetics and thermodynamics of sorption and desorption processes, crystallization of mineral phases in highly contaminated areas (examples of weathering zones of polymetallic deposits).

14. Bioremediation.

Bibliography: (in Polish)

Lawal, A.T., 2017. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. A review. Cogent Environmental Science, 3:1, 1339841.

Schwarzenbach, R.P., Gschwend, P.M., Imboden, D.M., 2016. Environmental organic chemistry. Wiley, 3rd edition, 1024 p.

Learning outcomes:

The course covers all issues in the field of forensic geochemistry, in particular the use and interpretation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heterocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polymers, heavy metals and radioactive isotopes. Forensic geochemistry combines experimental analytical procedures with scientific principles derived from the disciplines of organic and environmental geochemistry and hydrogeology. Forensic geochemistry begins where common environmental procedures do not deliver detailed results, due to their limitation in description and quantification. The results of such procedures are used to identify the petroleum- and polymer-related and other potentially hazardous environmental contaminants and for determining their sources and time of release. The main scope of forensic geochemistry methods is to find out the cause and the causer of an environmental pollution to solve cases of environmental liability.

Assessment methods and assessment criteria:

The examination requirements cover the scope of material presented at the lectures. The exam is in writing and includes a test and descriptive part.

Practical placement:

Not applicable

Classes in period "Winter semester 2020/21" (in progress)

Time span: 2020-10-01 - 2021-01-31
Choosen plan division:


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Type of class: Placement, 30 hours, 5 places more information
Coordinators: Mirosław Słowakiewicz
Group instructors: Mirosław Słowakiewicz
Students list: (inaccessible to you)
Examination: Course - Examination
Placement - Examination
Course descriptions are protected by copyright.
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