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Investigating the role of the carbon cycle on the environmental fate of semivolatile organic pollutants


Semivolatile organic compounds (SOCs) are a heterogeneous class of chemicals including many ubiquitous toxic pollutants such as the “notorious” persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The environmental fate of SOCs is strongly influenced by organic carbon (C) rich media. Organic soils, sediments and biomasses, serve as store compartments for the environmental burden of these pollutants. Preliminary results showed that productive ecosystems, such as forests, can enhance the deposition fluxes of airborne SOCs, with implications at the global scale. The main hypothesis behind the present project is that the C cycle controls the global environmental cycling of SOCs. This means that changes in the actual balance of synthesis and degradation of the organic C (associated for example to the global warming and land use change) can considerably modify the exposure scenario, possibly remobilizing the old burdens of pollutants. The main goal of the research is to investigate the mechanisms behind this link. In particular the study is aimed to: - Characterize the capacity of different productive ecosystems (including terrestrial and marine systems) in dynamically sequestering SOCs as a function of ecological and chemical parameters. - Investigate the effect of the organic matter mineralization on the environmental fate of SOCs. - Merge the rising information in mathematical models in order to provide tools for the mechanistic evaluation and risk assessment. The research activity is designed to adopt a multidisciplinary approach. Knowledge and techniques achievable from different fields (such as environmental chemistry, chemical engineering, ecology, plant physiology and marine biology) will be integrated in order to produce a structured interpretative framework useful to assess possible exposure scenarios of a changing environment.

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LA1 4YW Lancaster
United Kingdom

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North West (England) Lancashire Lancaster and Wyre
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Kevin Jones (Prof.)
EU contribution
No data