Water, air & soil pollution
Run by School of Natural Sciences
20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits
Organiser: Prof David Jones
Overall aims and purpose
As a professional environmental consultant, environmental engineer, policy advisor or town and country planner you will be expected to understand the underlying principles associated with air, soil and water quality. A major part of this requires an understanding of how manmade pollutants affect the biosphere and the impact on humans and also their impact on plants. This central course in environmental science/management is therefore designed for students with the above training in mind. It deals with major global environmental topics such as heavy metals, pesticides, human pathogens, biodiversity loss from rivers, acid rain, salinity, water scarcity etc. In addition it covers aspects of environmental UV exposure and elevated ozone, radioactivity and eutrophication. This material is provided with reference to underpinning scientific information (e.g. on soil, water and air) and complementary material on current EU and UK policy. It also looks at the state of the environment at a national and global scale. This second year unit further develops the information provided in the first year introductory module of Ecosystem Function and Services and provides the groundwork for later modules dealing with more specific environmental soil issues (e.g. Tenerife Field Course). The module comprises 22 lectures and the equivalent of 4 practical sessions and runs in the first semester. The practicals include 1 field trip (to Henfaes to look at soil, water and plants and 3 lab classes on aspects of air, water and soil pollution. The practicals will also enable students to use the basic statistical skills they learnt in Year 1 in real life situations. In summary, the purpose of the module is as follows: 1. To provide students with knowledge of the current environmental pollution problems associated with the terrestrial biosphere in a UK and global context. 2. To provide students with a theoretical knowledge of the chemical and biological nature of pollutants. 3. To provide students with a practical knowledge of how to determine pollutant concentrations, the effects of pollutants on vegetation, and how to do environmental risk assessment.
Lecture 1: Introduction to soil quality
Lecture 2: Key concept: Soil water
Lecture 3: Key concept: Nutrient cycling in ecosystems
Lecture 4: Key concept: Soil biology and biodiversity
Lecture 5: Key concept: Greenhouse gas emissions from soil
Lecture 6: Key concept: Nutrient function and plant uptake
Lecture 7: Key concept: The rhizosphere
Lecture 8: Key concept: Mycorrhizas and N2 fixation
Lecture 9: Global problems I: Soil salinity
Lecture 10: Global problems II: Soil acidity
Lecture 11: Global problems III: Human and animal pathogens
Lecture 12: Global problems IV: Organic pollutants
Lecture 13: Global problems V: Food security
Lecture 14: Global problems VI: Heavy metals
Lecture 15: Global problems VII: Water use and conservation
Lecture 16: Global problems VIII: Soil erosion
Lecture 17: Urban air pollution
Lecture 18: Global problems I: Ammonia, methane and nitrous oxide
Lecture 19: Global problems II: Indoor air pollution
Lecture 20: Global problems III: Radioactivity
Lecture 21: Introduction to water quality
Lecture 22: Global problems I: Pesticides and pollutants
Lecture 23: Global problems II: Eutrophication
Lecture 24: Global problems III: Sewage and waterborne diseases
Grade D- to D+ - Knowledge of key areas/principles only - Some weaknesses in understanding of main areas - Limited evidence of background study - Answer only poorly focussed on question and with some irrelevant material and poor structure - Arguments presented but lack coherence - Several factual/computational errors - No original interpretation - Only major links between topics are described - Limited problem solving - Many weaknesses in presentation and accuracy - No use of background reading
Grade C- to Grade B+ - Strong knowledge - Understands most but not all - Evidence of background study - Focussed answer with good structure - Arguments presented coherently - Mostly free of factual/computational errors -Some limited original interpretation - Well known links between topics are described - Problems addressed by existing methods/approaches -Good presentation with accurate communication - Good use of background reading material within work
Grade A- and above -Comprehensive knowledge - Detailed understanding - Extensive background study - Highly focussed answer and well structured - Logically presented and defended arguments - No factual/computational errors - Original interpretation - New links between topics are developed - New approach to a problem - Excellent presentation with very accurate communication - Excellent use of background reading material within work and especially journal articles
Understand what regulates air, soil and water quality from a scientific and legislative perspective.
Understand what properties control pollutant movement in the environment and how they may be controlled.
Observe in the field, different contaminated soils and the factors which caused this pollution.
Gain a practical knowledge of chemical analysis methods to quantitatively determine pollution. levels.
Work collaboratively within practical classes communicate data effectively
Conduct statistical analyses of data and critically assess the results
Produce scientific reports
|REPORT||Practical Report 1 (Soil quality)||
Following the soil quality field trip to Henfaes, you will undertake two laboratory practicals to determine the chemical, physical and biological properties of two contrasting soils. The practicals are designed to teach you about the major soil quality indicators used by UK government (DEFRA, Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales) when evaluating either agricultural fields, semi-natural habitats, forests/woodlands, post-industrial, or contaminated sites. The three practicals (1 field, 2 lab) are designed to take you through (1) field sampling aspects, (2) field observations and measurements, (3) laboratory analysis of samples, and (4) statistical analysis of data, (5) interpretation of the results, and (6) report writing.
Information is available before the practical on Blackboard, however, all the datasheets and protocols will also be available in the lab class. Result sheets will be provided and must be filled in and handed in with the practical report to the appropriate CNS hand-in box in Brambell. The practical report handed in should include the following: (1) Completed fill-in tables of laboratory measurements (pH, EC, moisture % etc) (2) Graphs for standard curves of Ca, K, Na and P (3) Statistical analysis workings or outputs from Minitab, Excel or SPSS (4) Answers to additional questions (see below) All the laboratory tests must be conducted within the allotted two practical sessions, however, calculations and statistical analysis can be completed in your own time but, you are strongly advised to attempt them during the practical where demonstrators are on hand to assist you, should you require it. A maximum of two to three A4 pages (maximum 1000 words) of additional comments are required discussing the following:
We will expect you to deliver a well-structured and presented experimental report. You are expected to complete the laboratory and field tasks together as a team and to collate and statistically analyse the results together. However, you are expected to create your own graphs and tables and to write your own answers to the short questions. Please include a reference list and consult books and journal articles to help you answer these questions. The additional questions are as follows:
i) Briefly, discuss the differences in soil quality between the two sites in specific reference to nutrient availability (guideline length 0.5 pages).
ii) Briefly discuss other soil quality parameters we could measure at the two sites including comments on how the results might be interpreted? (guideline length 0.5 pages).
iii) Do you think it is possible to set up a national soil quality monitoring scheme?
a. What do you think the practical, time, economic and statistical limitations are of setting up such a scheme? (guideline length 0.5 pages).
b. If we did set up a national soil monitoring scheme what could we use the information for? (guideline length 0.5 pages).
|EXAM||Exam for Water, Air and Soil Pollution||
Answer 3 questions from a choice of ca. 8 within 1.5 hours.
|REPORT||Practical Report 2 (Soil and water pollution)||
This practical is designed to teach you about how to measure contaminants in soil and water. The contaminants we will be testing for include both inorganic pollutants (heavy metals), organic pollutants (e.g. phenols) and biological contaminants. These represent some of the diagnostic field and lab tests used by the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales when evaluating post-industrial or contaminated sites. The practical is designed to take you through (1) laboratory analysis of solid and liquid samples, (2) interpretation of the results, and (3) report writing.
Information is available before the practical on Blackboard, however, all the datasheets and protocols will also be available in the lab class. Result sheets will be provided and must be filled in and handed in with the practical report to the appropriate CNS hand-in box in Brambell. The practical report handed in should include the following:
1. A completed worksheet containing all the practical results
2. A half page explanation of which sample contains which pollutant from the list provided at the start
All the laboratory tests must be conducted within the allotted practical session. A maximum of one and a half A4 pages (maximum 500 words) of additional comments are required for parts (2) to (4) listed above.
We will expect you to deliver a well-structured and presented experimental report. You are expected to complete the laboratory and field tasks together as a team and to collate the results together. However, you are expected to create your own graphs and tables and to write your own answers to the short questions. Please include a reference list and consult books and journal articles to help you answer these questions.
Teaching and Learning Strategy
24*1 hour lectures taught by a range of staff within SENRGY.
1*4 hour field practical class. The practical class forms the foundation for the first 2 lab classes and is compulsory. The field practical is based at Henfaes. the field class demonstrates soil quality assessment techniques in the field (focused on a saltmarsh and agricultural grassland).
3*3 hour laboratory practicals. The first two sessions are linked to Practical Report 1 (Soil quality) and the third practical is related to Practical Report 2 (Soil pollution and remediation).
Private and guided self-study. This will be for background reading and preparing practical reports etc.
- Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
- Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
- Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
- Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
- Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
- Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
- Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
- Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
- Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
- Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
- Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
Subject specific skills
- Conduct fieldwork and/or laboratory work competently with awareness of appropriate risk assessment and ethical considerations
- Recognize and apply appropriate theories and concepts from a range of disciplines.
- Consider issues from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.
- Apply subject knowledge to the understanding and addressing of problems.
- Collect, analyse and interpret primary and/or secondary data using appropriate qualitative and/or quantitative techniques.
- Awareness of the concepts of spatial and temporal scale in understanding processes and relationships.
- Appreciation of the reciprocal nature of human-environmental relationships.
- Apply appropriate techniques for presenting spatial and/or temporal trends in data.
- Preparation of effective maps, diagrams and visualizations.
- Understand the provisional nature of information and appreciate competing and alternative explanations.
- Collect and record data generated by a diverse range of methods.
- Demonstrate awareness of the importance of risk assessment and relevant legislation
- Demonstrate awareness of the importance of risk assessment and relevant legislation
Resource implications for students
They need to have their own lab coat for the laboratory practicals. They need outdoor wear (boots, waterproofs etc) for the field class.
Talis Reading listhttp://readinglists.bangor.ac.uk/modules/dxx-2002.html
Courses including this module
Compulsory in courses:
- F854: BSC Environmental Management year 2 (BSC/EM)
- F900: BSC Environmental Science year 2 (BSC/ES)
- 8U71: BSc Environmental Science (with International Experience) year 2 (BSC/ESIE)
- F850: Master of Environmental Science year 2 (M/ENVSCI)
- D450: MEnvSc Environmental Management year 2 (MENVSC/EM)
- D542: MEnvSci Environmental Management (with International Exper) year 2 (MENVSC/EMIE)
Optional in courses:
- D430: BSC Ecology year 2 (BSC/ECOL)
- D501: BSc Forestry (with sandwich placement) year 2 (BSC/F)
- D502: BSc Forestry with International Experience year 2 (BSC/FIE)
- D500: BSC Forestry year 2 (BSC/FOR)
- F803: BSc Geography with Environmental Forestry year 2 (BSC/GEF)
- F804: BSc Geography with Environmental Forestry year 2 (BSC/GEF4)
- F800: BSC Geography year 2 (BSC/GEOG)
- F802: BSc Geography (with International Experience) year 2 (BSC/GEOGIE)
- F710: BSC Marine Environmental Studies year 2 (BSC/MES)
- F713: BSc Marine Environmental Stud with International Experience year 2 (BSC/MESIE)
- C181: MBiol Ecology year 2 (MBIOL/ECOL)
- F801: MGeog Geography year 2 (MGEOG/G)
- F805: MGeog Geography with International Experience year 2 (MGEOG/GIE)