Learning outcomes of the course unit
Knowledge and understanding -
At the end of the course the students will have to know and understand various theoretical concepts concerning the fundamental chemical processes governing environmental pollution, both at the qualitative and at the quantitative level.
The acquired expertise will comprise:
1) familiarity with the correct scientific terminology;
2) knowledge of the physicochemical properties of water, soil, and organic and inorganic pollutants;
3) a theoretical background of analytical techniques to determine the above mentioned properties;
4) theoretical insight of the main remediation techniques.
Applying knowledge and understanding-
The student will be able to apply the acquired theoretical knowledge in the day to day practice in the fields of environmental safety and monitoring.
The students will have to be able to:
a) memorize and understand a large number of fundamental concepts (learning skills);
b) correlate these concepts together (making judgements);
c) use them as theoretical background to tackle chemical and environmental topics not necessarily handled during the course, but connected with it;
d) explain them in an organize way using a proper scientific language.
Chemistry 1 or a 9 CFU-equivalent chemistry course.
Course contents summary
The course covers three main subjects.
The first section treats the analysis and physical chemical properties of water, and the pollution of water with different organic and inorganic contaminants especially pesticides.
The second section goes into the various aspects of nuclear chemistry
starting with the atomic structure and the different types of radioactive decay, to proceed with artificial radioactivity, the production of nuclear energy and the problem of nuclear waste.
The third part of the program focuses on soil chemistry. The first half of the lessons on this topic concerns the description of the organic and inorganic components of soil, its physicochemical properties, its interactions with air and water and its potential contaminants. The second half describes several different types of soil remediation.
Water. Generality and classification. Analysis of water. Hardness of water. Methods for water treatements. Sedimentation. Coaugulation. Filtration. Outgassing. Sweetening. Caustic fragility. Demineralization. Ion exchange resins. Distillation. Electrodialysis. Drinkable waters.
Water pollution. Nature and classification of water pollutants. Elements as pollutants. Heavy metals. Non-metals. Metal and non-metals bonded to organic species. Eutrophic agents. Acidity, alkalinity and salinity. Oxygen, oxidant and reducing agents. Organic pollutants. Waste water. Soaps. Cleasings. Emulsifyings. Pesticides as pollutants. By-products of the industrial production of pesticides.
Nuclear chemistry. Nuclear decay processes. Half-life time. Nuclear activity. Dating methods with radiocarbon. Radioisotopes in water. Nuclear plants and environmental pollution.
Soil Chemistry. Minerals in soil. Classification and features of rocks. The three-dimensional structure of silicates. Organic components in soil. Carbohydrates, amino acids, peptides, proteins, humic substances. Physical processes of soil transformation. Chemical processes of soil transformation. Processes of transformation of the organic substances. Physical and mechanical properties of soil. The colloids and their role in soil. Texture in soil. The porousness in soil. Water and air in soil. Water-solids interactions in soil. Physical absorption. Chemical absorption. Physicochemical absorption. The cation exchange in soil. Soil remediation. Chemical flushing. Soil washing. Chemical dehalogenation. In situ chemical oxidation. In situ chemical reduction. Permeable reactive barriers. Soil vapor extraction. In situ electrokinetic extraction. Thermal desorption. Incineration. In situ vetrification. Bioremediation. Biodenitrificatio.Heap pile ex situ. Phytoremediation.
1) S. E. Manahan, Environmental Chemistry, Lewis publishers;
2) L. Radaelli, L. Calamai, Chimica del Terreno, ed. Piccin.
The course is complemented with references to web pages of the main American and European organizations for environmental safety, and to relevant recent scientific articles in the field of environmental chemistry.
The course is a theoretical one, and consists of 42 hours of classroom teaching. Lessons are delivered using video projected slides.
Assessment methods and criteria
To verify the level of learning achieved, written tests with open questions will be employed. The questions will be the same for each student within each session, and will span all the topics treated during the course. This type of examination allows to determine in an absolute and comparative fashion: 1) the competence on the different subjects; 2) the ability in giving precise answers to specific questions; 3) the presentation skills; 4) the exactness of the scientific language employed.
Each question will be given a mark from 0 to 10, corrected, if needed, with a weighting scheme related to the difficulty of the question. All the marks will be summed up and scaled to yield a grade in the 30/30 range.
On demand, the slides used during the course are available to the students