Due to its chronic toxicity, arsenic (As) in drinking water poses a serious thread to millions of people worldwide. In most cases, As release is thought to result from microbial AsV reduction coupled to surface chemical interactions in the sediments. However, the interdependence of chemical reactions at the mineral-water interface and microbial AsV reduction processes and the biogeochemical conditions leading to As release in sediments are not well understood.
This study aims at elucidating the influence of As adsorption reactions on Fe- and Al-hydroxides on the reduction rates of AsV using incubation studies. Factors to be studied include surface loading of AsV, competitive sorption of As, PO4, and SO4, the interaction of As-reducing and Fe-reducing bacteria, and the transferability of results to the complex soil environment. The knowledge generated in this study provides new insight into an important environmental process and is needed for the implementation of powerful strategies to cope with the problem o f large-scale As release from sediments into water worldwide.
The applicant has excellent skills in field studies on trace element fluxes and transformation in forest ecosystems as well as in speciation techniques for trace elements in environmental sample s. In the proposed study, the applicant extends his scientific skills in various fields, including surface, soil, and colloid chemistry, mineralogy, microbiology, and various experimental and analytical techniques. It offers the applicant a new and stimulating research environment and contacts to internationally well-known researchers in environmental chemistry and microbiology. Through training and presentations on international conferences, the applicant will improve his communication and presentation ski lls. The fellowship at ETH Zurich allows the applicant to complement its scientific skills and provides the ideal basis for his further research career in environmental sciences.
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