Chemicals are an essential part of our environment and everything on the earth interacts with them and environmental chemistry is a rapidly expanding field. Better management of our environment must begin with understanding the changes caused by humans in our quest for higher production and industrialisation.
This course is ideal for not just scientists, but those working in conservation, environmental protection, agriculture, landscaping, engineering, local councils, manufacturing, biosecurity, fisheries, the military, land management and forestry, engineering and construction.
In this Certificate of Environmental Chemistry course, you will study the types of chemicals used in the environment, how they can be toxic, and why sustainable production and eco-friendly products are becoming increasingly important. In this environmental chemistry online course, you will also learn about biochemistry, chemistry and ecology in the environment, including the relationship between water, air, soil and environmental chemistry.
You will also gain insights into its environmental chemistry’s applications, and how certain factors like chemicals and pollution can affect our health and the ways in which they can affect ecosystems and the environment.
Outcomes achieved by undertaking an environmental chemistry online course include:
- Learning about environmental chemistry through time
- Exploring global warming, greenhouse gases and carbon sequestering
- Gaining an understanding of basic chemistry concepts including charges on atoms and bonds, organic and inorganic compounds, and biochemistry
- Studying organic, inorganic and biological contaminants in the environment
- Gaining insights into ecological concepts in the environment
- Examining pollutants in the environment and the degradation of pollutants
- Understanding pricing measures implemented by government policymakers
- Learning about the types of pollutants and contaminants in the world’s natural environments (biomes)
- Exploring water pollution and treatment
- Gaining an understanding of air and environmental chemistry
- Studying the composition, purpose and vertical structure of the atmosphere
- Gaining insights into air pollution and its source and the effects of air pollution
- Understanding climate change and reducing carbon and greenhouse gas emissions
- Learning about water and environmental chemistry
- Exploring hydrological cycles and coastal marine, inland and continental environments
- Gaining an understanding of water chemistry and water categories and classifications
- Studying water quality standards, impurities and pollutants and pollution management
- Gaining insights into the methods of water treatment
- Understanding soil and environmental chemistry
- Learning about soil properties, the nature of the soil and important soil chemical reactions
- Exploring soil pollution, the methods of remediation and bioremediation
- Gaining an understanding of environmental chemistry and health
- Studying specific health risks, health and policy and environmental health levels
- Gaining insights into indoor and outdoor air pollution
- Examining water pollutants and health
- Understanding chemicals in households
- Learning about biological controls — the pitfalls and positives
- Exploring how to create green areas and raise public awareness
- Gaining an understanding of how to test for environmental chemistry
- Studying sampling and testing and sampling design and equipment
- Gaining insights into gas, air, soil, water, agricultural produce and plant tissue sampling
How Environmental Chemistry Affects Our World
When you undertake an environmental chemistry online course, you will learn that it is a science that affects the globe in diverse ways that are both beneficial and detrimental, in scales ranging from microscopic to global. Global examples include global warming and climate change. These are mostly due to changes in the chemical composition of atmospheric (greenhouse) gases, that is largely caused by humans.
Global warming is the long-term trend of rising average global temperatures, whereas climate change is a broader term referring to changes mostly brought about by global warmings such as heatwaves, the increased prevalence of drought and extreme rainfall events.
On a microscopic scale, chemicals are used to prevent or control outbreaks of diseases caused by microorganisms in crops. This includes fungal diseases such as rots and mildews which are often treated using chemicals, called fungicides. These may contain sulphur compounds, synthetic organic compounds (such as dithiocarbamates), inorganic copper compounds, as well as ‘natural’ compounds such as clay.
Fungicides have a beneficial effect in that they increase food production for an ever-expanding population. However, some of these fungicides have effects on the environment at a much larger scale than the intended microscopic one, due to their persistence in the environment, as they don’t break down with time and can accumulate. They can be toxic to aquatic organisms like fish, soil organisms like earthworms and even to humans. Thus, chemicals have many interacting influences on the environment at many different scales.
However, chemicals have also had many beneficial effects on the world in which we live. For example, water is safe to drink due to treatment with chlorine, known as “disinfection”. Chlorine kills many water-borne pathogens and has saved millions of lives from devastating infections such as typhoid, cholera and salmonella. In Australia, drinking water service providers are responsible for providing safe and reliable drinking water, and legislation can differ by state.
Spotlight: Associate Professor Alex Bissember
When you study an environmental chemistry online course, you will become familiar with the term “green” chemistry. It is an emerging field of research that is set to have a major impact on the future of our environment. It is a relatively new concept that was defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency as “the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the generation of hazardous substances.”
One of Australia’s research trailblazers is Alex Bissember. Alex is an Associate Professor of Chemistry and an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow at the University of Tasmania. In 2015, he was one of only six researchers around the world that received a grant from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) under a joint programme with Russian company PhosAgro, and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). And he was the only Australian scientist awarded a Green Chemistry for Life research grant.
One of the initiatives of the UNESCO funding scheme is to identify talented, young (under 35) scientists around the world who are initiating projects in the area of green chemistry. This includes creating more energy-efficient chemical processes, minimising (or even using) waste by-products, and integrating environmentally-friendly technology with innovative ideas.
According to Dr Bissember, we often forget that everything is in fact a chemical. And chemistry expands and positively impacts all aspects of our lives.
As he has said, “ Society might associate chemistry with ‘bad’ things, but the chemical industry is tremendously large and provides everything from plastics to perfume, dyes to pharmaceutical drugs, agricultural fertilisers, to the screen on your smartphone.”
Environmental issues are becoming increasingly more important and almost every industry or sector in the world is facing them. The chemical industry is no different. For example, the safe disposal of waste is a significant problem and has significant environmental and financial implications. The chemical industry, therefore, has a lot to gain from improving the way they do things. This may mean developing processes that utilise cheaper, less toxic starting materials, or chemical reactions that provide fewer waste by-products.
Dr Bissember’s funded project involved the development of new, inexpensive and viable visible light copper photocatalysts, and it is something he has been working on establishing since he arrived at UTAS in mid-2013.
“My research aims to develop new classes of visible light photocatalysts. These are metal complexes that absorb a photon of visible light, which enables them to access so-called ‘excited states.’ These species are then able to donate or accept electrons to or from other molecules. In this way, these photocatalysts can be used to shuttle electrons around a reaction mixture and, ultimately, facilitate the formation of new chemical bonds.
Visible light photocatalysis has recently re-emerged in chemistry as a powerful method for making organic molecules. These processes could have applications to many areas, from the synthesis of pharmaceuticals to material science and aspects of solar technology.”
His research may have applications to:
- The pharmaceutical industry is important in drug discovery.
- Materials science, through the potential development of new methods for the preparation of polymers.
- The renewable energy sector, through the potential development of more cost-effective solar cell sensitisers.
As he concludes, “If you look at an industrial process, companies generally aim to do things the most cost-effective way possible. Both now and in the future, that’s typically going to coincide with the most environmentally benign process too”.
Learn how chemicals can affect living things, and how certain systems and processes can be better managed for the benefit of both ecosystems and our global environment with an environmental chemistry online course such as our Certificate of Environmental Chemistry.