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The Fate and Transport of Emerging Contaminants in the Great Lakes Environment
Mentor: Dr. Thomas Holsen
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering

Past human activities have resulted in the emissions of a substantial number of harmful chemicals into the environment. Many of these chemicals, for example PCBs, have been banned for decades but can still be found in dangerously high concentrations in some biota. Currently there are approximately 30,000 chemical substances in wide commercial use (>907 kg/year). These potential emerging contaminants could cause similar problems as legacy chemicals. For the most part they have not been looked for in environmental media, and their emissions and fate are unknown. In this project the REU participant will help determine the fate and transport of potential emerging contaminants that are predicted to be persistent and bioaccumulative and that are not being considered in current contaminant measurement programs. The student will work within a team using novel techniques to measure these contaminants in various environmental compartments to determine if these contaminants are accumulating in the environment. It is expected that the results will: 1) provide valuable information about these new chemicals, 2) produce measurements of these chemicals in the environment for the first time, 3) help in the understanding of the processes responsible for pollutant cycling and 4) provide important information for regulators.