Contamination of soils, groundwater and the oceans with organic and inorganic contaminants is a worldwide problem. Geochemistry is one of the best methods for quantifying the transfer of elements within various geospheres (solid earth, oceans, atmosphere, hydrosphere) and their subdivisions, and also for quantifying the role and impact of organisms, including humans, in some global environmental changes.
Research conducted at PCIGR explores the fundamental scientific theory underlying pollutant release/mobility, biogeochemistry and ecosystem function. These results can yield important information required for the development of government policies for environmental pollution standards, impact assessments, and remediation strategies.
Research in this area includes the study of naturally-occurring biodegradation reactions in contaminated areas; constraining the mechanism of arsenic release into groundwater in Bangladesh and India; heavy stable isotopes as indicators for metal release and mobility in mine waste (tailings or waste rock); development of new isotopic tracers (e.g., Cd, Zn) to trace pollution sources and anthropogenic impact in the environment; and determining the history and source of lead pollution in Vancouver using tree rings and honey from bee hives.