Summer 2011

SCIE 628
Living in a Polluted World

Varekamp,Johan C.

07/04/2011 - 08/05/2011
Monday & Wednesday 01:00 PM - 04:00 PM

Science Tower 405

Special Schedule: July 4th Holiday makeup class will be held Friday, July 8 from 1:00-4:00

The modern natural world has become polluted with uncountable numbers of organic and inorganic compounds, some with unspeakable names, others simple toxic elements. This worldwide contamination is the result of our extensive use of natural resources, large scale fossil fuel burning and the creation of many synthetic compounds. As an example, in the pre-industrial world, free concentrations of Lead and Mercury were extremely small, but those have increased by factors of 5-15 over the last 150 years. Many of the polluting substances are endangering human health and may impact ecosystems as well. In this course we will track the sources and pathways of several pollutants such as As, Hg, Pb, Cu, Cr and several inorganic compounds like Nitrate and Ozone. We will discuss both the main industrial and natural sources of the pollutants, their chemical pathways in the environment, and how they ultimately may become bio-available and then enter the food chain. We will look at full global pollutant cycles, and highlight recent shifts in industrial emitters: e.g., from the USA to China over the last few years. We will discuss the toxic nature of each pollutant for humans, ways of monitoring environmental exposure to these toxins (analyses of hair, blood etc) and possible ways of protection and remediation.

The course will consist of lectures and lab classes. Each group of students will collect materials (surface sediments and soils, sediment cores from lakes, marshes, wetlands), which will then be photographed, dried, sub-sampled, ground-up, and analyzed for Hg, Pb, Cr and Cu as well as several other components in order to understand the cycling of these trace metals in the natural environment. We will also collect hair samples of class members (voluntary, samples will be analyzed in a sample identity blind fashion) to look at our own toxic exposure histories. We will use the new Wesleyan University X-ray Fluorescence facility (to be purchased this spring) for the Pb, Cu, As and Cr analyses, and existing Hg analytical facilities in E&ES.

Enrollment is limited to 18 students.

This course is open to auditors.

The deadline to withdraw and receive a tuition refund for this course is Wednesday, July 6 at 5:00 pm. Please visit our website for a complete list of registration and withdrawal dates for this session.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
SCIE 628

Johan "Joop" Varekamp (BS, MS, PhD, Utrecht University, MAAE, Wesleyan University) is Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science. He is a geochemist with research interests in Mercury pollution, toxic element emissions from active volcanoes, environmental change, and relations between human history and natural environments. He has written ~65 peer-reviewed papers, several textbook chapters, and ~260 abstracts. He works in Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, Greece, and on islands and coastal marshes of Long Island Sound. He teaches Environmental Science, Climate Change, Mineralogy, Petrology and Volcanology.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Lecture

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Franklin J. Agardy, James J.J. Clark, Patrick Sullivan, The Environmental Science of Drinking Water, Butterworth-Heinemann

Reading Materials are available at BROAD STREET BOOKS, 45 Broad Street, Middletown, 860-685-7323 Order your books online

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