Living in a Polluted World|
Fall 2018 not offered
|Certificates: Civic Engagement, Environmental Studies|
|Course Cluster: Health Studies, Service Learning|
This course treats the occurrences and origins, natural pathways, toxicologies, and histories of the major environmental contaminants. We all know about lead and its effects on humans, but how about cadmium and hexachromium, or the many unpronounceable organic contaminants, usually referred to by some acronym (e.g., DDT, POPs)? To be effective in this course, students will need basic college-level proficiency in chemistry and math as we will delve into aspects of geochemistry, geology, toxicology, environmental law, and some math. The class consists of lectures, one major problem set, the Hg-in-hair class study, and a class project on pollution records from a 125-year-old tree slab that has year rings. We will drill all rings and analyze the wood for Hg, Pb, nuclear contaminants, and several stable isotopes. Some will do a paleoclimate record on the rings as well. Students will jointly write various sections of a report on this original research. This is also a service learning course, providing environmental outreach to the larger Middletown community on local pollution over the last 125 years (the tree slab with its records will go on display at Wesleyan).
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Lecture||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (CIS)(E&ES)(ENVS-MN)(ENVS)
Professor Varekamp will be writing a textbook for this course, so there will be weekly handouts, which will become the beta version of the book.
|Examinations and Assignments: |
There is a midterm (35%), the problem set (10%), the project work with report (20%), and a final exam (35%).
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
Students should contact the instructor prior to registration regarding their background in general chemistry (high school, college)
An occasional movie night, a pollutant tinged culinary event, and guest speakers will be scheduled outside the regular class time. We may decide on a fixed time slot for the lab activities.
The course will consist of lectures with some lab classes. Students will collect materials (waters, sediment from lakes or wetlands), which will then be analyzed for Hg, Pb, Cr and Cu as well as several other components to understand the cycling of these trace metals in the natural environment. We will also collect hair and nail samples of class members to look at their toxic exposure histories. We will use the new E&ES X-ray Fluorescence facility for some of the analyses as well as the full suite of wet chemical equipment for water analyses.
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