Environmental Pollution and Biological Remediation Methods (EPBR)

Course Description: 

The course offers an overview of problems related to degradation and pollution of terrestrial ecosystems with an emphasis on soil and water. Students will learn concepts related to soil and plant sciences, microbiology, water management, and environmental conservation strategies. Practical aspects of remediation of degraded environments will be addressed and analyzed in details. In particular, we will explore the ecological and technical basis of green technologies, i.e., biological remediation methods. These methods comprise the use of organisms, such as plants and microorganisms, to remove and neutralize contaminants and to sustain ecosystem resilience and health. These methods have gained acceptance in the past 20 years as a cost-effective, non-invasive alternative or complementary technology to engineering-based pollution remediation methods. In this course, besides studying the technical aspects related to biology and chemistry, we will discuss the advantages and limitations of these green technologies, including their ecosystems services, regulatory requirements, and public acceptance issues.

This course is suited to both students with and without a background in science because the focus is on concepts rather than technical matters alone. 

Learning Outcomes: 
  • Analyze the impact of soil and water pollution on ecosystems and humans
  • Learn and apply the concepts of bioavailability and bioaccumulation
  • Learn and apply the concepts of degradation, transformation, and recycling of organic and inorganic elements (i.e., pesticides, heavy metals)
  • Analyze multi-scale phenomena from plant cells to terrestrial ecosystems
  • Examine the economic and social benefits/limitations of biological remediation methods
  • Examine ecosystem services, regulatory requirements, and public acceptance of green technologies
  • Analyze case studies and acquire an understanding of the complexity of what constitutes pollution remediation
Assessment: 

Class participation  10%

Assignments  40%

Final Exam  50%

Prerequisites: 

NA