69145 - Environmental Applied Chemistry

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Climate Action Life on land Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student will have a knowledge of the major classes of pollutants to air, water and soil and their sources. The student will know and predict the main degradation pathways and effects of an organic or inorganic substance introduced into the environment. The student will also know the natural cycles of major chemical elements and the main environmental chemical measures.

Course contents

3 credits (24 hours) will be dedicated to topics related to organic compounds of environmental interest. The topics to be discussed are detailed below: the concept of persistence and the evaluation of the lifetime of an organic compound in the environment. Partition of organic compounds between different environmental compartments, vapor pressure, solubility in water, air-water and octanol-water partition coefficients. The process of absorption and water-solid partition. Estimation of the mobility of organic matter and mean residence times in the different compartments. Nature and role of humic acids in the transport of organic pollutants.
The chemistry of organic compounds in the atmosphere: photochemical and radical reactions.
Atmosphere and organic pollutants: mechanisms of depletion of  stratospheric ozone, the role of chlorofluorocarbons; formation of tropospheric ozone and other secondary pollutants, the role of the organic component in photochemical smog, tropospheric oxidation of volatile organic hydrocarbons.
Main classes of organic substances in the atmosphere, sources, persistence and toxicity. Aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, particulate absorption. Chlorinated compounds: polychlorinated dibenzo-1 ,4-dioxins, polychlorinated dibenzofurans and polychlorinated biphenyls. The industrial accident in Seveso.
Greenhouse effect: mechanisms of absorption of infrared radiation.
Main classes of organic pollutants in water and soil: sources, persistence and toxicity. Hydrocarbons from oil spills, hydrocarbon and chlorinated solvents from industrial activities, pesticides, herbicides, surfactants, halogenated organic substances from industrial and agricultural activities, organometallic compounds. Gasoline additives and oxygenates. Main mechanisms of degradation of organic compounds in water and soil: reactions of hydrolysis, photolytic processes, redox reactions, microbiological degradation.

1CFU (8 hours) will be held by Prof. Soavi and will be dedicated to the following topics of environmental inorganic chemistry:

- the concepts of “energy sustainability” and water management efficiency in the framework of the international environemtal and socio-economical challenges

-high efficiency technologies for the conversion, storage, use of renewable energy sources and water management.

1CFU (8 hours) will be held by Professor Daniele Fabbri and dedicated to the following themes of environmental analytical chemistry:
Methods of microextraction of organic pollutants.
Analysis of priority and emerging pollutants using LC-MS, GC-QTOF, tandem MS, Orbitrap techniques.
Analysis of elements by ICP-MS.

The laboratory (1CFU, 12 hours) will provide activities related to the topics covered in lectures. It will take place in Ravenna in the laboratories of chemistry within the  Environmental Sciences laboratories "R.Sartori".  Students will work in small groups and at the end of the lab will produce a brief written report


Lecture notes

Colin Baird, Chimica Ambientale, Zanichelli

S. E. Manahan, Chimica dell'ambiente, Piccin

B. Rindone, Introduzione alla Chimica Ambientale, Città Studi Edizioni

R. P. Schwarzenbach, P.M. Gschwend, D. I. Imboden, Environmental Organic Chemistry, Wiley Interscience

R. A. Larson, E. J. Weber, Reaction mechanisms in environmental organic chemistry, Lewis Publishers

Teaching methods

Lessons and discussion.

Practical laboratory training.

Assessment methods

The examination at the end of the course will assess the achievement of learning objectives:

- Knowledge of the main classes of pollutants in air, water and soil, and of their sources.

- Understanding and prevision of the major degradation pathways and effects of an organic or inorganic substance introduced into the environment

- Knowledge of the natural cycles of the main chemical elements and main environmental chemical measurements

The final score of the integrated course is defined by an oral test, on the average of the marks obtained in three specific questions on topics related to the main objectives of the course.

Teaching tools

Lecture slides

Office hours

See the website of Paola Galletti

See the website of Daniele Fabbri

See the website of Francesca Soavi