The environment’s chemistry – from molecules to the ecosystem
Researchers within the environment are studying the circulation of natural substances and contaminants. They want to understand how different substances behave at a molecular level as well as in the landscape, in order to gain knowledge that makes it possible to treat the environmental problem in the entire ecosystem.
How are substances spread and stored in our nature, and how are they taken up by different organisms? Why are there environmental toxins in the Baltic Sea fish despite emissions being reduced? Through understanding processes of this kind, the researchers want to gain knowledge about what effects different substances have on our environment. It is a challenge. The reactions are complex and besides, our ecosystem is constantly changing – in a natural way, and also via emissions and climate changes.
Permafrost melting and emissions
To their aid, the researchers have ultramodern instruments with which they examine the materials, look for patterns, and create models and possible scenarios. The reactions that occur at interfaces between different phases are especially interesting. It may, for example, involve how water reacts with particles in the ground, distribution of the substance between water and sediment or what is going to happen when permafrost starts to melt.
Sanitizing decontaminated soil
The research extends from basic research to practical applications. In Sweden alone there are over 80,000 contaminated sites and the researchers work with, among other things, methods for sanitizing decontaminated soil and mining environments. Emissions of pharmaceuticals and chemicals in different products are other areas where researchers want to determine how we should handle the environmental risks that are caused by chemicals in our surroundings.