Environmental Chemistry

Env ChemResearch in the environmental chemistry area addresses the sources, transport, fate, bioavailability, and impacts of contaminants in ecosystems.  Recent studies have included the fate and effects of brominated fire retardants, tributyltin and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and the use of geographic information systems (GIS) for modeling spatial distributions of environmental data. Emerging contaminants are a particular interest.  The faculty collaborates with international researchers, federal and state agencies (e.g., EPA, NOAA, DOE, and VA Dept of Environmental Quality VA Dept. of Health) and private industry to translate basic research into real-world applications. Recent student research has examined the accumulation of flame retardants in fish and birds, the development of antibody-based biosensors for measuring environmental contaminants, the effects of contaminant exposure on the disease process in fish, and the accumulation of persistent organic pollutants in organisms from land-applied sewage sludges.

Research Areas

Dr. Robert Hale: emphasis on brominated diphenyl ethers, polychlorinated biphenyls, land-applied sewage sludge, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides and organochlorines.

Dr. Drew Luellen: emphasis on brominated fire retardants, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, LC/MS/MS method development, thermal desorption and headspace sampling of volatile and semi-volatile compounds.

Dr. Michael Unger: emphasis on tributyltin, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, kepone, and pesticides.

Principal investigators: Dr. Robert Hale, Dr. Drew Luellen, Dr. Michael Unger