The course aims to give to the student an overall picture on the possible sources, pathways and geochemical cycles of contaminants for the environment and their impact on the earth's vast array of living environments. Particular attention will be given to heavy metals/metalloids and to the different effect that metal speciation may have on health (e.g. Cr-As). The course aims also to give basic knowledge on the contaminant/natural background values, on the indicator media of environmental health status and on remediation/alleviation of metal(s)-contaminated media as well as on decision making for environmental sustainability. The laboratory activity will introduce the student to real cases of environmental contamination.
Expected learning outcomes
The student will acquire competence on the role of heavy metals/metalloids as essential/pollutants elements, on the identification of metals' natural and anthropogenic sources, on the characterization of metals mobility/immobility in environmental media, and in establishing their pathways, geochemical cycles and bioaccumulation in ecosystems. The student will also acquire basic knowledge in defining contamination values and processes that can affect them through time and on remediation/alleviation strategies to keep earth systems sustainable.
1) Sources and origins of the metals: rocks; weathering and soils; water, atmosphere and human activities. 2) Heavy Metals Mobility/Immobility in Environmental Media with reference to speciation (e.g. As-Cr). 3) Pathways (respiration, water and food), Cycles, Bioaccumulation, Impact on Ecosystems. 4) Contaminant/Natural Background Values: Timing and Processes. 5) Indicator Media of Environmental Health Status and their analysis: Samples/Protocols. 6) Basics on remediation/Alleviation of Metal(s)-Contaminated Media. 7) Decision Making for Environmental Sustainability. 8) Laboratory activity aimed to apply the acquired knowledge to natural cases.