Environmental chemistry is the study of chemical species in air, soil, water and living environments. It encompasses analytical chemistry, physical chemistry, organic chemistry and inorganic chemistry as well as more interdisciplinary fields like biology, hydrology toxicology and engineering.
Chemical science is intertwined with numerous techniques and fields such as maths, genetics, engineering, hydrology and toxicology. This interdisciplinary field has an immense impact on society today.
Redox chemistry is critical to comprehend the processes driving reducing conditions in soil and groundwater, as these are created through anaerobic respiration–microbial respiration without oxygen. Anaerobic respiration produces an electron transport chain which selects electron acceptors from among numerous compounds which are sensitive to redox changes.
As an environmental chemist, you will use your understanding of redox reactions and microbial metabolism to comprehend how pollutants move through the environment. Furthermore, your skills could be put to good use solving environmental problems such as air pollution’s detrimental effect on people’s health or toxins in groundwater’s detrimental effect on marine ecosystems.
Graduates wishing to continue their education can pursue a master’s degree in environmental chemistry or PhD. These degrees typically require between one-and-a-half to two years additional study after earning the bachelor’s degree.
Environmental chemists are in high demand around the world. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in this field is projected to grow at an annual rate of eight percent through 2026, with many positions open for new graduates.
Environmental chemists usually hold a bachelor’s degree from an ACS-approved chemistry program. They possess knowledge of general chemistry, including organic and biochemistry, as well as courses related to oceanography, biogeochemistry, analytical methods, ecology, biology and geology.
UMCES provides a comprehensive program in environmental chemistry and toxicology to prepare students for advanced studies or careers within various industries and government agencies. Research is conducted worldwide across marine, estuarine and freshwater systems to address pressing environmental problems and create solutions to emerging threats.
Researchers in this field specialize in devising strategies to control invasive species, assessing the health impacts of environmental contaminants and measuring how chemicals affect ecosystems and other organisms. Furthermore, they identify metabolic pathways, mechanisms of action and treatment methods for various pollutants.
They apply their research to real-world applications, such as assessing the health effects of industrial and municipal waste disposal sites on aquatic ecosystems. Furthermore, they look into how air pollution interacts with plants, animals and humans and the effects of climate change on water quality.
Environmental chemists are in high demand within industry, government agencies and universities due to the increasing use of highly persistent chemicals as well as ongoing obligations under regulatory frameworks such as REACH and the Stockholm Convention.