What is Environmental Chemistry?
The field that deals with the study of various chemical processes occurring in the different elements of the environment such as water, air, land, and the effects of numerous human activities on these parameters. It is basically associated with the various chemicals such as organic, biochemical, etc. existing in the environment.
It is known to be a crucial branch of chemical science associated with sources, reactions, transformation, effects, etc.
Basics of Environmental Chemistry
Environmental chemistry is quite a vast field within which there are multiple interconnected categories such as atmospheric chemistry, Aquatic Chemistry, Environmental biochemistry, Geochemistry, Toxicological Chemistry, Industrial ecology, etc.
Environmental chemistry revolves around studying the chemical and biochemical actions which are taking place in our surroundings. It is not similar to green chemistry as green chemistry mainly aims to reduce the pollution content in the environment.
More simply, it can be said that environmental chemistry is the study of the various effects that the actions of humans exhibit due to the release of chemicals. For this, first, it is needed to have an understanding of the behavior of an uncontaminated environment.
The field mainly revolves around the analysis of how the arrival of various chemicals in air, water, and soil shows effect. Here the concerned issues are environmental and human health.
In general, the analysis takes place in a way that the environmental chemists take samples if harmful chemicals either from the soil, water, or air and perform analysis within a lab region. Basically, the various properties of the collected samples are studied so that the effects which the environment has possessed in the constituents can be analyzed.
Categories of Environmental Chemistry
Let us have a brief idea about the various fields of environmental chemistry.
Aquatic Chemistry: The word aquatic corresponds to water and aquatic chemistry deals with the chemical processes occurring in water. These processes are very much affected by the various microorganisms existing in the water.
It is due to this reason; this chemistry is very much influenced by the hydrosphere and biosphere region of the atmosphere. Mainly, these chemical processes take place in natural waters i.e., oceans, streams, aquifers underneath, etc.
Atmospheric Chemistry: This is one of the branches of environmental chemistry that is associated with various chemical processes that occur in the atmosphere. In chemistry, the dilution of chemicals is an important aspect along with photochemistry.
The term photochemistry corresponds to the act of absorption of high-energy photons by the molecules of the atmosphere, thereby giving rise to various products like photochemical smog after the reaction. In atmospheric chemistry presence of microorganisms in the air plays quite a crucial role.
Environmental Biochemistry: This category belongs to the biologically mediated phenomenon that takes place in the environment. Some of the examples of these phenomenons are biodegradation of organic wastes or denitrification where nitrogen is sent back to the atmosphere in the form of gas.
Geochemistry: The word geochemistry is formed from the combination of the word geosphere and chemistry. This category is associated with the chemical practices that take place in the geosphere under the presence of minerals and respective living organisms. This is very much associated with the chemical and biochemical actions that take place in the soil.
Industrial Ecology: In this category, the industrial system is considered with respect to the natural ecosystem. This deals mainly with the actions taking place on various industrial materials. Balance and diversity are the two major aspects of a successful industrial ecosystem where products and potential wastes are produced. If the ecosystem is well functioned then it permits maximum recyclability of materials which corresponds to no wastes.
Contamination in Environment
Contamination or Pollution corresponds to the presence of harmful chemicals in the environment. Contamination is an act where one or more chemicals of high concentrations get involved in the environment however this does not cause biological or ecological damage. While for pollution is such an act that can cause damage to living bodies due to the high concentration of chemicals. This means a pollution is a severe form of contamination.
Mainly the chemicals that lead to pollution are gases like sulfur diode, elements like arsenic, copper, selenium, etc. Not only this, nitrate or phosphate in high concentration also damages the environment thereby hindering ecological productivity.