Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology

Environmental Chemistry

The expertise of CBL’s faculty in environmental chemistry spans a broad range of environmentally relevant chemical analytical capabilities seldom found at a single location. Mechanistic and applied studies investigate emerging chemical concerns. Sensitive and well planned field studies are as important as sophisticated laboratory-based analysis in environmental chemistry. Researchers at CBL work in different environmental fields while advancing science in a synergistic fashion and state of the art instrumentation is applied to study biogeochemical processes, including Arctic Marine systems, organic matter characterization, gas hydrates and methane biogeochemistry, paleoclimate and paleooceanography. Another focus is the tranport and fate of man-made organic chemicals and heavy metals in the environment. Researchers measure the flows of these chemicals occurring in and between the atmosphere, surface waters, sediments, soils and biota. See current projects below that include topics such as emerging contaminants of concern, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metals.

Environmental Toxicology

Faculty study issues relating to the fate and effects of chemical, biological and physical pollutants in the environment and work closely with the environmental chemistry faculty.  For example, to begin to understand the potential effects of a chemical on organisms it is first critical to know the chemical and physical characteristics of that chemical, which environmental compartment it will be present in (e.g. water, sediment or biota) and ultimately what it’s concentration is and for how long will it persist. Organisms face a variety of stressors, including chemical contaminants, changes in their normal environment (i.e. salinity, heat, nutrients, dissolved oxygen) and introduced (invasive) species. CBL toxicologists play lead roles in investigating how the myriad of pollutants currently in and continually entering the ecosystem impact resident organisms. This includes studies specifically in the Chesapeake Bay but also in other areas of the United States investigating the effects of chemical contaminants on reptiles, amphibians, fish, oysters, shrimp, algae and bacteria. CBL toxicologists carry out both basic mechanistic/hypothesis driven research in novel research areas, such as maternal transfer of chemicals in reptiles and the role of oxidative stress and DMSP in coral bleaching and applied research including the use of standard toxicity and WET tests to establish if receiving waters would contain toxicity to investigating the impacts of coal fly ash release and oil spills and associated restoration efforts. The faculty possess a broad base of expertise, including molecular and biochemical toxicology, immunotoxicology and ecological toxicology. This combined expertise allows the faculty to address the complex issue of organisms being exposed to numerous pollutants, for example, how chemical contaminants influence the ability of organisms to cope with disease?

Current Projects

Analytical capabilities

CBL has an outstanding array of modern analytical instrumentations including extended laboratory space to conduct challenging research.