Closing the window on air pollution

Written by Emma Turner for Chemistry World

Graphical abstractSwitching off fans and closing car windows can minimise drivers’ exposure to harmful particles.

Sitting in traffic is bad for your lungs, but closing your car windows and switching off the fans can minimise the amount of micro-size pollution particles you breathe, scientists from the UK found.
Air pollution is a major health risk. The World Health Organization estimates that it caused 3.7 million premature deaths in 2012. Last year, a group led by Prashant Kumar from the University of Surrey, UK, showed that drivers stuck at traffic lights are exposed to 29 times more harmful pollution particles than those driving in free flowing traffic.

Switching off fans and closing car windows can minimise drivers’ exposure to harmful particles
Sitting in traffic is bad for your lungs, but closing your car windows and switching off the fans can minimise the amount of micro-size pollution particles you breathe, scientists from the UK found.
Air pollution is a major health risk. The World Health Organization estimates that it caused 3.7 million premature deaths in 2012. Last year, a group led by Prashant Kumar from the University of Surrey, UK, showed that drivers stuck at traffic lights are exposed to 29 times more harmful pollution particles than those driving in free flowing traffic.

Read the full article in Chemistry World.


Concentration dynamics of coarse and fine particulate matter at and around signalised traffic intersections
Prashant Kumar and Anju Goel
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2016, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C6EM00215C, Paper

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Ideas towards the eradication of diarrheal diseases in poor countries

a blog article by Luiza Cruz, PhD student at Imperial College London

Diarrheal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years, killing almost 800,000 children every year. A combination of different causes, such as poor hygiene conditions and malnutrition, make low and middle income countries more susceptible to the disease. In recent years, there has been a successful campaign to decrease this high mortality rate, from almost 2.5 million deaths in the year 2000, representing a decrease of 70 to 80%. However, the amount of diarrheal episodes, or morbidity, is still very high. Taking into consideration the problems in decreasing the morbidity, Timothy R. Julian brings a perspective emphasizing the interventions that would be most effective at reducing the burden of diarrheal disease.

The vast majority of diarrheal episodes is caused by pathogens, notably rotavirus, norovirus, E. coli, Shighella spp and Cryptosporidium spp. These present different dose-response relationship, with some being more likely to infect a child after exposure (Figure 1).  According to these estimates, a great decrease in exposure is often need to reduce the probability of infection and therefore interventions should focus on minimising children exposure to the pathogens.

Figure 1. Median estimates for dose-relationship for common diarrheal pathogens.

As data regarding quantitative pathogen and human-environment interaction data is sparse, scientists often use proxy measures, like human feces equivalents, to estimate exposure risks. For example, probability of infection is calculated using the HID50 (the pathogen dose at which there is a 50% likelihood of infection) and the shedding rate (eq. 1). Estimates for environmental contamination is also presented (eq. 2).

Diarrheal disease pathogens – E. coli organisms are usually divided into two categories: enterotoxigenic (ETEC) and enteropathogenic (EPEC). Infectivity is usually strain specific and it is in general relatively low, with HID50s ranging from 105 to 108 cells for ETEC and 105 to 107 cells for EPEC, corresponding to 0.001 to 10 g and 0.01 to 1 g of feces of an infected person, respectively. Despite being similar to E. Coli, Shigella spp are more infective, presenting an HID50 of around 103 cells, which corresponds to 0.01 to 1 g of infected feces. The protozoal pathogens Cryptosporidium spp are highly infective, with an HID50 as low as 9 oocysts (10-1 to 10-5 of the amount of feces shed in a day during infection). With high shedding and high infectivity rates, rotavirus is arguably the most important enteric pathogen: the HID50 is 6 focus-forming units (FFU), equivalent to only 10-3 to 10-9 g feces of an infected person. Different from rotavirus (endemic), norovirus is characterised by its role in epidemic outbreaks. Its HID50 is 1320 genome equivalents for susceptible people (some people are naturally resistant), which corresponds to 10-4 to 10-5 g of infected feces.

Environmental transmission – The routes of transmission can be explained using the F-diagram (Figure 2). The diagram connects six environmental reservoirs for the pathogens. Interactions between infected feces and these reservoirs (through human, animal and natural processes) and subsequent interactions between the reservoirs and susceptible people result in infections.

Figure 2. The F-diagram showing the complex transmission pathways of diarrheal diseases.

With 23% of the global population using unsafe water, this reservoir is arguably the most important route of exposure to the most important pathogens (all of them have been detected in stored drinking water in LMICs), especially for rotavirus, norovirus and Cryptosporidium spp, due to the high infectivity of these.

Food is also an efficient transmission pathway, especially for bacterial pathogens that can grow in these environments. Fecal bacterial is frequently detected on hands on LMICs, posing both a direct and indirect route of transmission. Flies are important due to their interactions with both feces and food. Fields (referring to crops and soil) are primarily an intermediate reservoir, but also play a role in copraphagy and geophagy in some regions. Finally, fomites are extensively contaminated with infected feces in LMICs, contributing to the ubiquity of the pathogens throughout a household and other environments.

Perspective – Having in mind the multiple factors involved in the transmission of diarrheal pathogens (for example, etiology, infectivity, fecal shedding rate, reservoirs, human-reservoirs-nature interactions and sanitation) and that these are most likely region/site/country specific, it is important to combine interventions to interrupt simultaneously all the relevant transmission routes. For bacterial agents, reducing geophagy, prevention of growth in food and fly control could be effective in reducing exposure and therefore infection. Cryptosporidium spp and norovirus are more difficult to control due to high shedding and infectivity rates. A combination of fecal management, water and hygiene control and limited contact with infected people would be necessary. Unfortunately, rotavirus is almost impossible to control, with vaccination, nutrition and health care being the current focus to delay infection until after the first year of the child, when the mortality is reduced.

With multiple and specific interventions is therefore possible to successfully achieve great reductions in the burden of diarrheal diseases in LMICs and maybe reach eradication in the future.

To read the full Open Access article, click the link below:
Environmental transmission of diarrheal pathogens in low and middle income countries
Timothy R. Julian
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2016,18, 944-955
DOI: 10.1039/C6EM00222F

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About the webwriter

Luiza Cruz is a PhD student in the Barrett Group at Imperial College London. Her work is towards the development of new medicines, using medicinal and natural products chemistry.

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Emerging Investigator Series for Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts

Desiree Plata takes on the role of Emerging Investigator Series Editor

Desiree Plata (Yale University) will be overseeing this series and reviewing applications.

Some of the best work in the field of Environmental Science being conducted by early-career researchers was showcased in the Emerging Investigators Issue of Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts. As highlighted in the Editorial introducing this issue, starting in 2017, we will be running an Emerging Investigator Series, similar to the successful series of our sister journal Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology (http://rsc.li/emerging-series). This continuous format is designed to allow more flexibility for contributors to participate in the venture without the restriction of submission deadlines and benefit the Environmental Science community through continued exposure to the exciting work being done by its early-career members.

With the introduction of this new Series, we are delighted to announce that Desiree Plata will be taking on the role of Emerging Investigator Series Editor. Desiree has been an active member of the Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts Editorial Board for over a year and will be overseeing this Series and reviewing applications going forward.

Desiree adds: “I am looking forward to working with my colleagues to build a rigorous series that highlights the most exciting advances in their research. In addition, I hope that the Series will inspire future research directions by identifying needs and synergies in the cross-cutting intellectual spaces we are defining as a community.”

To be eligible for the new Emerging Investigator Series you will need to have completed your PhD (or equivalent degree) within the last 10 years and have an independent career. If you are interested in contributing to the Series please contact the Editorial Office (espi-rsc@rsc.org) and provide the following information:

  • Your up-to-date CV (no longer than 2 pages), which should include a summary of education and career, a list of relevant publications, any notable awards, honours or professional activities in the field, and a website URL if relevant;
  • A synopsis of the article intended to be submitted to the Series, including a tentative submission date. This can be an original research or review article. Please visit the journal website for more details on article types.All articles published as part of the Emerging Investigator Series will be widely promoted and will be collated together on the Journal website. Please note that articles submitted to the journal for the Series will undergo the usual peer-review process.

We hope you enjoy reading the final Emerging Investigators issue in its current form; please contact the Editorial Office (espi-rsc@rsc.org) if you are interested to contribute to the Emerging Investigators Series.

Keep up to date with the latest papers added to this Series on our twitter feed (@EnvSciRSC) with the hashtags #EmergingInvestigators #ESPI

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Prediction and control models for algal blooms towards the safety of drinking water

a blog article by Luiza Cruz, PhD student at Imperial College London

An algal bloom is a rapid increase or accumulation in the population of algae in a water system. It can break the balance of an aquatic ecosystem and hence threaten the quality of drinking water. Therefore it’s really important that we are able to develop reliable models to predict algae growth and the effects this would have on access to safe drinking water. Having that in mind, Nie and co-workers suggest new prediction and control models for algal blooms in the urban section of the Jialing River, one of the tributaries of the reservoir and home of more than 8 million people.

Fig. 1 – Comparison between CAA and related parameters.

Enzyme activity has been shown to be useful as early indicator in algal blooms. Algae growth is usually accompanied by a high nutrient concentration, carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus being the most abundant elements. Whereas there are a number of studies relating N and P to algal blooms, studies with C are far outnumbered. The enzyme responsible for taking inorganic carbon sources into the algae cells is the carbonic anhydrase (CA). It catalyses the transformation of aqueous HCO3- into CO2, which is then transferred into the cells by diffusion to be transformed back into HCO3- that will later be used in the process of carbon fixation. Measuring the carbonic anhydrase activity (CAA) is cheaper, faster and more accurate than other techniques used to predict algal blooms. However, as such a complex process, it is necessary to link CAA to other micro parameters, which then should give a good starting point for predicting and controlling algal blooms.

This study, based on the urban section of the Jialing River, investigated the different form of carbons, water temperature, flow velocity (V), pH, CO2 concentration, CAA and algal cell density and the relations between these factors. The data was collected in four different sites alongside the river from December 2013 to October 2014.

After analysing all these parameters, Nie and colleagues found the following correlations between them, CAA and algal cell density (Fig. 1 and 2).

Fig. 2 – Comparison and fitting between algal cell density and related parameters.

Nie and colleagues could determine whether an algal bloom would occur based on the conditions of algal cell density. The threshold for algal blooms was set in 0.2 x 106 cells per L. Considering the positive correlation between the density of algae and CAA, the threshold for algal blooms was set in 0.650 EU per 106 cells and 0.864 EU per 106 cells. This means that when algal density is increasing and CAA is higher than 0.650 EU per 106 cells, an algal bloom will occur. On the other side, if CAA is lower than 0.864 EU per 106 cells and algal density is decreasing, the algal bloom will disappear.

Algal blooms are caused by multiple factors thus the combination of multiple parameters is necessary for a reliable and efficient model. To improve the method credibility, the following equation was identified as the monitoring model for the whole year:

cells = 23.278CAA – 42.666POC + 139.547pH – 1057.106

The identification of a control period is paramount to prevent an algal bloom. These researchershave also identified a model based on CAA that is able to predict algal cell density during the key control period, February to March:

cells = -45.895CAA + 776.103V – 29.523DOC + 14.219PIC + 35.060POC + 19.181 (2 weeks in advance)

cells = 69.200CAA + 203.213V + 4.184CO2 + 38.911DOC + 40.770POC – 189.567 (4 weeks in advance)

With these models, algal blooms can be predicted and controlled in the Jialing river.

To read the full article for free* click the link below:

Significance of different carbon forms and carbonic anhydrase activity in monitoring and prediction of algal blooms in the urban section of Jialing River, Chongqing, China
Yudong Nie, Zhi Zhang, Qian Shen, Wenjin Gao and Yingfan Li
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts
, 2016,18, 600-612
DOI:
10.1039/C6EM00039H

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About the webwriter

Luiza Cruz is a PhD student in the Barrett Group at Imperial College London. Her work is towards the development of new medicines, using medicinal and natural products chemistry.

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*Access is free until 16/08/2016 through a registered publishing personal account.

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DGT: using hydrogels to determine antimony

a blog article by Fernando Gomollón-Bel, PhD student at the University of Zaragoza

A photo of a disassembled DGT device, showing piston and cap. The device in this picture has been fitted with activated carbon for assimilating gold and/or bisphenols.

Researchers at Griffith University in Australia have developed a new diffusive gradients in thin films (DGT) method to determine the concentration of antimony in polluted waters. This new technique also allows them to measure in situ the speciation of this metalloid in its different oxidation states. Speciation could be carried out before using solid phase extraction (SPE) cartridges, but these present some limitations when it comes to analysing some complex mixtures like seawater.

On the other hand, DGT is a sampling technique that can be used to measure a myriad of analytes in different mixtures. DGT uses a combination of hydrogel-based layers to extract and retain the analyte, that can be eluted and determined later on. This technique has been used to measure trace metals, metalloids, sulphides, phosphates and ammonium. In this case, to enhance the affinity of DGT membranes to antimony, researchers have used thiol-based silica gel layers.

In this paper, the authors present a combination of methods that, ultimately, allows them to calculate the speciation of Sb(III) and Sb(V). The first method is used to determine the total amount of antimony in solution. This method, based on a Metsorb-DGT technique, was originally described in the literature for measuring Sb(V). The team demonstrated that it was equally effective absorbing Sb(III), which allows to determine the total amount of this metalloid. The second method presents a high selectivity of Sb(III) over Sb(V) using a new binding layer featuring a 3-mercaptopropyl functionalized silica gel. Subtracting both measurements, researchers can easily determine amounts of the different oxidation states.

World production trend of antimony (US Geological Survey, Wikimedia).

Antimony is a dangerous and toxic pollutant listed as a priority by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The production of this metalloid, mostly used in flame retardants and lead-acid batteries has grown over the last century, inevitably leading to pollution of the environment. Developing new methods to quantify antimony is always interesting to understand its behaviour and the biogeochemical processes it follows. The DGT method presented in this paper can measure antimony in situ, avoiding common issues (mostly speciation changes) of off-site analyses. Moreover, it has been proven to have an appropriate capacity to measure antimony even in highly polluted areas. Finally, these new methods have been tested in a wide range of pH, ionic strengths, and also in artificial seawater, proving the superiority of DGT over SPE in the determination of antimony in complex samples.

To read the full article for free* click the link below:

In situ speciation of dissolved inorganic antimony in surface waters and sediment porewaters: development of a thiol-based diffusive gradients in thin films technique for Sb(III).
W. W. Bennett, M. Arsic, D. T. Welsh, and P. R. Teasdale.
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2016, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C6EM00189K

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About the webwriter

Fernando Gomollón-Bel is a PhD Student at the ISQCH (CSIC-University of Zaragoza). His research focuses on asymmetric organic synthesis using sugars as chiral-pool starting materials towards the production of fungical transglycosidase inhibitors.

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*Access is free until 29/07/2016 through a registered publishing personal account.

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25th Japan Society for Environmental Chemistry

The 25th Japan Society for Environmental Chemistry Annual Meeting was held in Niigata, Japan on 8-10 June 2016.

During the award ceremony Hiromitsu Urakami from the Royal Society of Chemistry presented several certificates to poster prize winners on behalf of our environmental science journals.

Congratulations to all of the winners!

Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts Winners:

Tomohiko Nakano, Kyoto University

Poster title: Development of a molecularly imprinted polymer for selective adsorption of estrogenic substances

Hiromitsu Urakami (left), Tomohiko Nakano (right)

Congratulations to Ayaka Onishi, University of Tokyo who also won an Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts poster prize for the poster entitled;

“A study on anomaly concentration of arsenic to ferruginous precipitate in Tokyo, Japan”

And the winners for the Environmental Science: Nano and Environmental Science: Water Research and Technology poster prizes were Kosuke Ranaka and Suzumi Nishimura. More details can be found on our  ES: Nano and ES:Water blogs.

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Amines in Shanghai – a new quantitative analysis

Amines are (usually smelly) organic compounds that contain a basic nitrogen atom bearing a lone electron pair. They are often used in solvents and reagents, which causes them to be released to the atmosphere. Atmospheric amines may be dangerous for several reasons;

  • Oxidation of amines can result in some highly carcinogenic compounds
  • The release of amines to the air can alter the nitrogen cycle
  • Amines can contribute to chemical processes, including nucleation and the formation of aerosols, which can affect the water cycle by generating rain in unexpected locations

Structure of ethylamine (image by @moleculd, http://twitter.com/moleculd)

Thus, it is important that we can rely on effective ways of measuring the concentration of amines in the atmosphere. In this paper developed by chemists and engineers at Fudan University in Shanghai, China, the authors optimize a new quantitative analysis of aliphatic amines found in urban samples. To do so, these researchers have created a novel on-line derivatization of amines that transforms them into highly fluorescent molecules that can be separated and analyzed by HPLC.

This new method simplifies the experimental efforts normally required by offline derivatizations. The authors also demonstrated, using different concentrations of certified standards, that the method is statistically accurate. In addition, the procedure is very sensitive, reaching detection limits of 1 microgram per liter (ppb) for all the aliphatic amines that were analyzed.

Pollution over Shanghai (picture by Peter Dowley, https://www.flickr.com/people/40271931@N00)

Finally, it is worth highlighting that, using their own novel method, the authors have been the first to detect and quantify the seasonal variation of aliphatic amines in the pollution-fog over Shanghai. They have proved that these organic molecules are more abundant during the summer. Could this have any implications on local weather?

Interested in this research? Click on the link below to read the full article for free*

Quantitative analysis of aliphatic amines in urban aerosols based on online derivatization and high performance liquid chromatography.
X. Huang, C. Deng, G. Zhuang, J. Lin, and M. Xiao.
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2016, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C6EM00197A

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About the webwriter

Fernando Gomollón-Bel is a PhD Student at the ISQCH (CSIC-University of Zaragoza). His research focuses on asymmetric organic synthesis using sugars as chiral-pool starting materials towards the production of fungical transglycosidase inhibitors.

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*Access is free until 12/07/2016 through a registered publishing personal account.

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Unconventional hydrocarbons – Understanding the Potential Environmental Impacts

A post by Mindy Dulai, Senior Programme Manager, Science at the Royal Society of Chemistry

In the continuing drive to meet the world’s future energy needs, few can have missed the increased recent prominence of unconventional hydrocarbons. The extraction of resources such as shale gas, using techniques like hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) has gained attention from around the world, both for its potential to fulfil our energy requirements, as well as due to concerns around possible environmental impacts.

Chemistry has a strong role to play in helping us to understand potential environmental impacts, particularly areas such as air and water quality. The Royal Society of Chemistry supports the research community examining these issues, as chemical sciences research can help to inform broader policy decisions on this issue. We publish papers and books across our portfolio of journals, including those that encourage scientific debate and have actively supported those in the research community to share knowledge and advance science. To mark the publication of a report that explores research questions in this area, we have gathered some of our best publications on this topic to share with readers.

Unconventional hydrocarbon extraction in different countries has evolved at different rates. In the US there has been rapid exploration that has led to commercial scale production, whilst in the UK we are at a much earlier stage of the debate. Examining the situation in places like the US, which has a comparatively more established shale gas industry, can help us to determine what is known about the potential environmental impacts and where research, including chemistry, can help to address unknowns.

In November 2015, the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Environment, Sustainability and Energy Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry brought together researchers from the US and the UK at a workshop on Improving the Understanding of the Potential Environmental Impacts Associated with Unconventional Hydrocarbons. The aim of the workshop was to share knowledge in this rapidly changing area, particularly with respect to identifying research gaps and areas where future research may be needed. The range of topics covered by the workshop was broad, including areas such as air quality and wastewater treatment, which have a direct link with the chemical sciences, through to seismicity and socioeconomic impacts.

Participants at the workshop had the opportunity to present current research in their field, taking into account the specific situation in their country.  Discussions at the workshop examined similarities and differences between the different nations, leading onto the identification of knowledge gaps and future research needs.

The workshop’s co-chairs, Professor Richard Davies of Newcastle University and Professor Danny Reible at Texas Tech used the discussions from the meeting to produce a report, Joint US-UK Workshop on Improving the Understanding of the Potential Environmental Impacts Associated with Unconventional Hydrocarbons. The report captures key research gaps and needs in a whole range of areas from community engagement, to human health to waste water management.

Professor Richard Davies commented: “This workshop represented a valuable opportunity to prioritise and tailor research questions that could help us to better understand any potential environmental impacts if unconventional hydrocarbon extraction were to take place in the UK. The report examines both near-term and long-term research priorities for the research communities working in this area”.

The report will be relevant to researchers working on unconventional hydrocarbon extraction, outlining future research opportunities and needs. You can watch Professor Fred Worrall, one of the UK workshop participants talk about some of the points covered at the workshop in his lecture Exploring the impact of the unknown: a potential UK shale gas industry. Fred’s work on monitoring emissions relating to onshore oil and gas operations is also the subject of a recent Education in Chemistry article.

We hope that you will enjoy reading about both recent research advances and future areas for investigation in an area that will likely continue to feature in both scientific and public discourse.

Books

Fracking
Editors: R E Hester, R M Harrison
Print publication date: 02 Sep 2014
DOI: 10.1039/9781782620556

Principles and Practice of Analytical Techniques in Geosciences
Editor: Kliti Grice
Print publication date: 11 Sep 2014
DOI: 10.1039/9781782625025

Reviews

Evolving shale gas management: water resource risks, impacts, and lessons learned
Brian G. Rahm and Susan J. Riha
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2014,16, 1400-1412
DOI: 10.1039/C4EM00018H

Use of stable isotopes to identify sources of methane in Appalachian Basin shallow groundwaters: a review
J. Alexandra Hakala
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts
, 2014,16, 2080-2086
DOI:
10.1039/C4EM00140K

Unconventional oil and gas extraction and animal health
M. Bamberger and   R. E. Oswald
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts
, 2014,16, 1860-1865
DOI:
10.1039/C4EM00150H

Practical measures for reducing the risk of environmental contamination in shale energy production
Paul Ziemkiewicz, John D. Quaranta and Michael McCawley
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts
, 2014,16, 1692-1699
DOI: 10.1039/C3EM00510K

Air quality concerns of unconventional oil and natural gas production
R. A. Field, J. Soltis and   S. Murphy
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts
, 2014,16, 954-969
DOI:
10.1039/C4EM00081A

Analysis

Deciphering the true life cycle environmental impacts and costs of the mega-scale shale gas-to-olefins projects in the United States
Chang He and   Fengqi You
Energy Environ. Sci.
, 2016,9, 820-840 DOI: 10.1039/C5EE02365C

Wells to wheels: water consumption for transportation fuels in the United States
David J. Lampert, Hao Cai and Amgad Elgowainy
Energy Environ. Sci.
, 2016,9, 787-802
DOI:
10.1039/C5EE03254G

Papers

Solid-phase extraction followed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry for the quantitative analysis of semi-volatile hydrocarbons in hydraulic fracturing wastewaters
Julia Regnery, Bryan D. Coday, Stephanie M. Riley and  Tzahi Y. Cath
Anal. Methods
, 2016,8, 2058-2068
DOI:
10.1039/C6AY00169F

Partitioning of naturally-occurring radionuclides (NORM) in Marcellus Shale produced fluids influenced by chemical matrix
Andrew W. Nelson, Adam J. Johns, Eric S. Eitrheim, Andrew W. Knight, Madeline Basile, E. Arthur Bettis III, Michael. K. Schultz and   Tori Z. Forbes
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts
, 2016,18, 456-463
DOI:
10.1039/C5EM00540J

A liter-scale microbial capacitive deionization system for the treatment of shale gas wastewater
Casey Forrestal, Alexander Haeger, Louis Dankovich IV, Tzahi Y. Cath and   Zhiyong Jason Ren
Environ. Sci.: Water Res. Technol.
, 2016,2, 353-361
DOI:
10.1039/C5EW00211G

Detection of water contamination from hydraulic fracturing wastewater: a μPAD for bromide analysis in natural waters
Leslie J. Loh,a Gayan C. Bandara,a Genevieve L. Webera and  Vincent T. Remcho*a

Analyst, 2015,140, 5501-5507
DOI:
10.1039/C5AN00807G

Microbial capacitive desalination for integrated organic matter and salt removal and energy production from unconventional natural gas produced water
Casey Forrestal, Zachary Stoll, Pei Xu and  Zhiyong Jason Ren
Environ. Sci.: Water Res. Technol.
, 2015,1, 47-55
DOI: 10.1039/C4EW00050A

Stimuli-responsive/rheoreversible hydraulic fracturing fluids as a greener alternative to support geothermal and fossil energy production
H. B. Jung, K. C. Carroll, S. Kabilan, D. J. Heldebrant, D. Hoyt, L. Zhong, T. Varga, S. Stephens, L. Adams, A. Bonneville, A. Kuprat and   C. A. Fernandez
Green Chem.
, 2015,17, 2799-2812
DOI:
10.1039/C4GC01917B

Geo-material microfluidics at reservoir conditions for subsurface energy resource applications
Mark L. Porter, Joaquín Jiménez-Martínez, Ricardo Martinez, Quinn McCulloch, J. William Carey and Hari S. Viswanathan
Lab Chip
, 2015,15, 4044-4053
DOI:
10.1039/C5LC00704F

Shale gas-to-syngas chemical looping process for stable shale gas conversion to high purity syngas with a H2:CO ratio of 2:1
Siwei Luo, Liang Zeng, Dikai Xu, Mandar Kathe, Elena Chung, Niranjani Deshpande, Lang Qin, Ankita Majumder, Tien-Lin Hsieh, Andrew Tong, Zhenchao Sun and Liang-Shih Fan
Energy Environ. Sci.
, 2014,7, 4104-4117
DOI:
10.1039/C4EE02892A

Organic compounds in produced waters from shale gas wells
Samuel J. Maguire-Boyle and Andrew R. Barron
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts
, 2014,16, 2237-2248
DOI:
10.1039/C4EM00376D

Automated method for determining the flow of surface functionalized nanoparticles through a hydraulically fractured mineral formation using plasmonic silver nanoparticles
Samuel J. Maguire-Boyle, David J. Garner, Jessica E. Heimann, Lucy Gao, Alvin W. Orbaek and  Andrew R. Barron
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts
, 2014,16, 220-231
DOI:
10.1039/C3EM00718A

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Between a rock and a hard place: greenhouse gas storage and natural resource extraction

a blog article by Abha Parajulee, PhD student at the University of Toronto

Humans are continuing to release increasing amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere that have been implicated as key contributors to climate change. One major greenhouse gas is CO2. It is estimated that geological storage could result in a 17% reduction in atmospheric CO2 by 2050. Such projects aim to use sedimentary basins as they are believed to be the safest option for long-term storage of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. However, sedimentary basins are also valued for a range of extractable natural resources such as groundwater, oil and gas, and geothermal energy. Thus, there is a need to understand the potential interactions between these resources and subsurface storage of CO2 when targeting a particular site for CO2 storage.

A recently published study involving researchers from various institutes in Western Australia explain the potential risks involved with geological CO2 storage. Considering all the potential interactions between basin resource use and CO2 storage, the authors outline a Framework for Basin Resource Management Strategy (FBRMS) for optimizing interactions that may occur during the management of sedimentary basins.

Potential impacts of CO2 geological storage on other basin resources (reproduced from K. Michael
et al., EAGE Third Sustainable Earth Sciences 2015 Conference, DOI: 10.3997/2214-4609.201414262)

The initial stage of the FBRMS is an assessment of potential basins for CO2 storage based on containment potential of the subsurface. Optimal conditions include thick layers of low permeability rocks such as shales and anhydrites that can effectively cap the CO2. Lateral containment should be provided by lateral decreases in permeability, low permeability faults, or, in the absence of physical barriers, residual trapping, dissolution into water and mineral formation via reactions with the subsurface matrix. In addition to geologic characterization, modelling, monitoring and risk assessment are crucial for verifying long-term CO2 containment.

Also considered in the FBRMS are the two general means by which CO2 storage can affect other basin resources: migration and increasing basin pressure. Vertical or horizontal migration may result in contamination of natural gas or another currently used or potentially extractable resource.

Once CO2 is present in the subsurface, the future potential use of the injected area is instantly limited. An important concern associated with using shale basins is that shale may be used as an unconventional gas resource in future, and the methods for utilizing this resource negate its effectiveness as a long-term cap for CO2 storage. Though the probability is extremely low, increasing subsurface pressure from CO2 injection could also force saline water upwards along a wellbore or through existing fractures into groundwater resources, or may even cause fractures. Regardless of the likelihood, identifying all of these risks is an important facet of the FBRMS, presumably leading to relevant monitoring activities. On the other hand, increased pressure could also be beneficial in counteracting reduced pressure in mature oil or gas fields, low groundwater levels, or subsidence.

The FBRMS integrates all of these concerns to evaluate the likelihood of various basin resource-storage interactions, how beneficial or detrimental the interactions would be, and to determine how best to manage these interactions. It is intended to be used by various project stakeholders throughout the lifetime of a project, and may require intensive data collection or expert risk assessment depending on the individual project being assessed.


To read the full paper for free*, click the link below:

Framework for the assessment of interaction between CO2 geological storage and other sedimentary basin resources
K. Michael, S. Whittaker, S. Varma, E. Bekele, L. Langhi, J. Hodgkinson, and B. Harris
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts,
2016, 18, 164-175
DOI: 10.1039/C5EM00539F

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About the webwriter

Abha Parajulee is a Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto Scarborough. She is interested in water resources and the behavior of organic contaminants in urban environments.

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* Access is free until 01/06/2016 through a registered RSC account.

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Are we eating flame retardants?

a blog article by Fernando Gomollón-Bel, PhD student at the University of Zaragoza

Most of the materials we use nowadays are impregnated with several chemicals to make them fireproof and meet fire safety regulations. These are classically halogenated compounds such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Recently, the food safety authorities in the EU banned PBDEs because several studies linked them to hepatic damage and perturbations in metabolism.

Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts

Hence, chemists developed a new kind of fire retardants known as hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDs). Manufacturers of goods such as plastics, textiles and electronic equipment, are increasingly using these compounds. However, HBCDs may not be an ideal solution: recent studies found them in dust, air, sediments, and sewage in areas surrounding electronic waste (or e-waste) processing plants. And what is worse, the presence of HBCDs has also been reported in eggs, while researchers have confirmed human exposure from eating food sourced near the e-waste treatment plants. These are concerning issues, since these chemical are potentially toxic, persistent and bioaccumulative.

In this article published in Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, Dr. Fang Tao and co-workers investigated the presence of HBCDs and other fire retardants in fish, pigs and free-range chickens reared in areas that could have been polluted by e-waste plants in Bui Dau, Vietnam. In addition to this, the team also took samples from supposedly non-contaminated zones both in Vietnam and Japan and analysed them.

The authors reported that HBCDs, as well as other emerging fire retardants, are found in chicken, fish and pork samples collected near the e-waste processing plant in Bui Dau. According to these data, locals may be ingesting dangerous amounts of toxic, accumulative chemicals. Although the dangers of some of these compounds are not completely defined yet, the researchers suggest to keep studying this phenomenon: the quantity of these contaminants in the environment may rise soon.

Interested in this research? Click on the link below to read the full article for free*

Emerging halogenated flame retardants and hexabromocyclododecanes in food samples from an e-waste processing area in Vietnam
Fang Tao, Hidenori Matsukami, Go Suzuki, Nguyen Minh Tue, Pham Hung Viet, Hidetaka Takigami and Stuart Harrad.
Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts, 2016, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C5EM00593K

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About the webwriter

Fernando Gomollón-Bel is a PhD Student at the ISQCH (CSIC-University of Zaragoza). His research focuses on asymmetric organic synthesis using sugars as chiral-pool starting materials towards the production of fungical transglycosidase inhibitors.

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* Access is free until 11/04/2016 through a registered RSC account.

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