Environmental Chemistry

Course CodeBSC306
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Study Environmental Chemistry

Understanding the processes of change is the key to managing environmental chemistry. This course develops your fundamental understanding of these processes and the chemicals that inhabit the environment; giving you a foundation for managing environmental chemistry. In this course, you'll learn:

  • The difference between chemicals and necessary chemicals
  • Sampling and testing techniques
  • Applications of environmental chemistry to human health

Better management of our environment must begin with understanding of the changes caused by humans in our quest for industrialisation and higher production. Excellent for environmental managers and assessors, factory managers, mechanics, town planners, landscapers, and more.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Environmental Chemistry and Chemistry Concepts
    • Chemistry
    • Environmental chemistry through time
    • Global warming, greenhouse gases and carbon sequestering
    • Basic chemistry concepts
    • Charges on Atoms and Bonds
    • Compounds
    • Organic and Inorganic Compounds and Biochemistry
    • Used in Environmental Chemistry
    • Organic, inorganic and biological contaminants in the environment
  2. Ecological Concepts in the Environment
    • Pollutants in the environment
    • Degradation of pollutants
    • Pricing measures implemented by government policy makers
    • Types of pollutants
    • Contaminants in the world's natural environments (biomes)
    • Water pollution and treatment
  3. Air and Environmental Chemistry
    • Composition of the Atmosphere
    • Vertical structure of the atmosphere
    • Purpose of the atmosphere
    • Air pollution and its source
    • Effects of air pollution
    • Climate change
    • Reducing carbon and greenhouse gas emissions
  4. Water and Environmental Chemistry
    • Hydrological Cycles
    • Marine (Ocean) Environments
    • Coastal Environments
    • Continental and Inland Water Environments
    • Water chemistry – important reactions
    • Water categories and classifications
    • Water and impurities and pollutants
    • Water quality standards
    • Water pollution management
    • Methods of water treatment
  5. Soil and Environmental Chemistry
    • The nature of soil
    • Soil properties
    • Important soil chemical reactions
    • Soil chemistry and its importance in management
    • Soil pollution
    • Methods of soil remediation
    • Bioremediation
  6. Environmental Chemistry and Health
    • Health as policy
    • Specific health risks
    • Environmental health levels
    • Indoor and Outdoor air pollution
    • Water pollutants and health
    • Chemicals in households
    • Biological controls, pitfalls and positives
    • Creating green areas and raising public awareness
  7. Testing for Environmental Chemistry
    • Introduction to sampling and testing
    • Sampling design
    • Sampling equipment
    • Gas/air, soil and water sampling
    • Agricultural produce/plant tissue sampling
    • Using the correct sample container
    • Chain of custody
    • Chemical analysis in the field
    • Simple colorimetric tests and simple meters
    • Chemical analysis in the laboratory
  8. Applications for Environmental Chemistry
    • Environmental assessment and management
    • Principles of sustainable environmental management
    • Green chemistry in environmental management
    • Green chemistry is the future of environmental protection
    • Environmental building practices
    • Treating contamination or pollution sustain-ably
    • Urban planning concerns and considerations
    • Sustainable transport
    • Barriers to sustainability and green design


Green chemistry is the design of chemical processes, products and policies that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances and reduce use of non-renewable resources. It addresses every aspect of production, from initial design through to distribution and end of life for a product. 

The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry:

1. Prevention 
Reduce waste through preventative practice: design processes that prevent waste production.

2. Atom economy 
Design methodology that maximises the use of all materials in the product. Aim to use up all the starting materials in creation of the final product. Waste few or no atoms.

3. Production of less hazardous chemicals from the outset 
Whenever possible, design methods that use safer substances, ideally those with low or no toxicity regarding humans and the environment.

4. Designing safer chemicals 
Design chemical products that have the desired effect while keeping human and environmental toxicity to a minimum.

5. Safer solvents
Whenever possible, reduce use of auxiliary compounds such as solvents and separation agents. If use is necessary, aim to use safer compounds, with little or no toxicity to humans and the environment.

6. Designed with energy efficiency on mind 
Minimise energy requirements whenever possible. Aim to run processes at ambient temperature and pressure whenever possible. 

7. Use renewable feedstocks 
Whenever possible, use renewable stocks and materials rather than limited or depleting ones. E.g. use renewable agricultural products or usable waste rather than fossil fuels.

8. Reduce derivatives 
Minimise or avoid derivatisation such as the use of blocking groups, protection/deprotection, temporary modification etc. Derivative use requires additional reagents and generates more waste.

9. Catalysis 
Use catalysts where possible – small amounts are effective, and can catalyse a given reaction more than once. Avoid stoichiometric reagents where possible, as these are single-use.

10. Designed for future degradation 
Design compounds that will degrade after use to reduce waste and prevent environmental accumulation.

11. Analysis for pollution prevention 
Use real-time, in-process monitoring to collect data and control or eliminate by-products which contribute to waste.

12. Safer chemistry for accident prevention
Design processes and products to minimise potential chemical accidents such as explosions, fires, and releases into the environment.

Green Chemistry is the Future of Environmental Protection

Green chemistry aims to prevent pollution and use sustainable practices which, in turn, sustain the earth and its living populations. This is necessary for human civilisations to continue. Sustainable civilisations using green technology:

  • Protect human health
  • Protect the environment
  • Are more likely to have stable economies due to efficient use renewable resources and efficient, limited use of non-renewable resources

Reducing and preventing pollution is a key part of ongoing environmental and human health. There are many green technologies and green practices to help with this. This can mean everything from developing new processes on a manufacturing level to changing the chemicals used for a service. 


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