Environmental chemistry By : Janet Hernandez


Temperature vs Heat

Heat : Is the total energy of molecular motion in a substance. Heat is measured in Joules.

Temperature: Is a measure of the average energy of molecular motion in a substance. Measured in degrees of Fahrenheit , Celsius , and kelvin scales.

Laws of thermo
  • 1st law - Matter and energy cannot be created nor destroyed.
  • 2nd law - Entropy of any isolated system always increases.
  • 3rd law - States that the entropy of a system approaches a constant value as the temperature approaches absolute zero.

Calories and specific heat

Specific heat is the amount of heat per unit mass required to raise the temperature by one degree Celsius. It is a physical property of materials. Used to describe heat transfer. The specific heat of material is an intensive property that is independent of the amount of a substance.

The calorie, cal is the amount of energy (heat) needed to increase the temperature of one gram of water by 1 c.

  • Joules = J
  • Cal ones = Cal
  • 4.184J = 1 Cal


* To convert waste into reusable material.
Up- cycling - Converting low-value materials into high value products (more desirable ) .
Down cycling - Converting valuable products into low- value raw materials ( less desirable ).

Types of plastics and issues

Purpose / plastics
  1. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) - Carbonated drink bottles , peanut butter jars , plastic film , microwavable packaging.
  2. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) - Detergent bottles , milk jugs , molded plastic cases.
  3. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) - Pluming pipes and guttering , shower curtains , window frames , flooring.
  4. Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) - Outdoor furniture , siding , floor tiles , shower curtains , clamshell packaging.
  5. Polypropylene (PP) - Bottle caps , drinking straws , yogurt containers , appliances , car (bumpers ).
  6. Polystyrene (PS) - Food containers , plastic tableware , disposable cups , plates , compact- disc .


People are generating more plastic trash than ever , only a little gets recycled. Plastics and their byproducts are littering our cities , oceans , and waterways and contributing to health problems in humans and animals. It's important to know that not all plastics are the same , some are more dangerous than others and should be avoided or limited.

Recycling metals and paper

Metal -Almost all of aluminum and steel products can be recycled over again without compromising the content must be close loop recycling.

  • Aluminum like : Soda cans , appliances , auto parts , windows , doors.

Paper - Must be down cycle , every time paper is recycled the fibers get smaller.

Soil profiles

Soil : A resource that is renewable.

Mature soil : Is soil that has developed over a long period of time to have a sense of horizontal layers , soil horizons.

O) Organic matter : Surficial organic deposit with litter layer of plant residues in relatively non-decomposed form.

A) Surface soil : Is organics mixed with mineral matter. A-horizon may also be result of a combination of soil bioturbation and surface processes that winnow fine particles from biologically mounded top soil. The A-horizon is regarded as a " bio mantle ".

E) Horizon : Not all soil contains A horizon leaching layer , light in color and no nutrients.

B) Subsoil : Subsurface layer reflecting chemical or physical alteration of parent material. This layer accumulates iron , clay , aluminium and organic compounds , a process referred to as illuviation.

C) Substratum : Parent rock , also known as substratum. The parent material is sedimentary deposits. Layer of large unbroken rocks. This layer may accumulate the more soluble compounds.

R) Bedrock : Is the parent material in bedrock landscapes. This layer denotes the layer of partially weathered bedrock at the base of the soil profile. Unlike the above layers , R horizons largely comprise continuous masses of hard rock that cannot be excavated by hand.

Soil color - classify by the specific color , value (lightness or darkness) , chroma (light intensity) ,

Age/ Time : The older the soil the more red it is.

Factors - Minerals relate to color.

Climate - May leach , remove coatings chroma & value.

Topography - Up lands are more brown and red.

Vegetation - Conifers are more acid , more leaching , less color.

Sand , silt and clay (soil texture)

Soil texture : Is the look and feel of a soil and it is determined by the size and type particles that make up the soil including the organic but mostly referring to the inorganic material.

Sand : Is the largest of the mineral particles. Sand particles create large pore spaces that improve aeration. Water flows through the large pore spaces quickly. Soils with a high percentages of sand are generally well drained. Sandy soils lack the ability to hold nutrients and are not fertile. Sandy soils also feel gritty to the touch.

Silt : Is the mid-size soil particle. Silt has good water-holding ability and good fertility characteristics. It feels like flour when dry and smooth like velvet when moist.

Clay : Is the smallest size soil particle. Clay has the ability to hold both nutrients and water that can be used by plants. It creates very small pore spaces, resulting in poor aeration and poor water drainage. Clay forms hard clumps when dry and is sticky when wet.

Issues with soil and soil properties

Issues : The effects of soil erosion go beyond the loss of fertile land. It's led to increased pollution and sedimentation in streams and rivers clogging waterways and causing less population in fish and other species. Lands are often less able often to hold onto water , which can worsen flooding.

Texture - When you take some moist soil in your hand and rub it between your fingers, you will feel the texture of the soil. In particular, you will be able to detect whether the soil feels rough or coarse, in which case it is probably a sandy soil, or whether it feels smooth which is the feel of a clayey soil. The amounts of sand, silt, clay and organic matter in a particular soil play a large part in the way that it behaves, how it can be managed and what it can be used to grow. Sandy soils are easy to cultivate but tend to hold little water and may be droughty, whereas clay soils are more difficult to cultivate, hold a lot of water and can become waterlogged, specially in winter.

StructureThe particles of sand and clay that make up the soil rarely occur as separate particles but are more or less loosely combined into aggregates. The type of structure in soil depends to a large extent on the texture and the amount of organic matter in the soil and the way the land is managed. The aggregates that make up the structure may be as small as a few millimetres, such as granules and crumbs, or as large as several centimetres, such columns and prisms. The granular or crumb structure is the one favored by farmers and gardeners as it makes a better bed for the seeds they plant.

Water holding capacity - All soils have the ability to hold water in their pores and on the surfaces of mineral grains and structural aggregates. This ability varies from soil to soil and relates closely to the texture of the soil. Sandy soils, while easy to cultivate, often suffer from the fact that they cannot hold onto much water and have a poor waterholding capacity. They are often known as thirsty soils. Clay soils by contrast have lots of small pores in which they can store water. This means that they always have some water for the plants that grow in them and thus have a good waterholding capacity.

Plant nutrients

Micro - Are required by plants in far smaller quantities than any macro-nutrient they are required by plants include Zinc (Zn) , Iron (Fe) , Manganese (Mn) , Copper (Cu) , Boron (B) , Molybdenum (Mo) , and Chlorine (CI) . Micro -nutrients are required in trace quantities.

Macro - They are divided into two classes , primary and secondary. The three primary macro- nutrients are nitrogen (N) , phosphorus (P) , and potassium (K). They are all required in relatively large quantities by plants. The secondary macro- nutrients , calcium (Ca) , magnesium (Mg) , and sulfur (S), are required in lesser quantities relative to the primary category.


Material of natural or synthetic origin that are applied to soils or to plant tissues usually (leaves) to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants.

Inorganic: Is fertilizer minded from mineral deposits or manufactured from synthetic compounds. Composed of natural ingredients of plant or animal origin. Provides nutrients to assist with plant growth and improve plant yield. If you ever over use inorganic fertilizer it can destroy soil.

Organic: Is fertilizer derived from animal matter and vegetable matter. Naturally occurring organic fertilizer include animal wastes. It is rich , complete fertilizer , organic material helps soil hold on to the water. The cons is that they are expensive to apply and extremely bad when it gets to our water.

Straight: Is a fertilizer that contribute single nutrient to the crops. An example of straight fertilizer is urea , not explosive and it takes longer to give nitrogen to plants.

Combination: It may include fast or slow release fertilizers usually both and the analyses cover nearly the entire fertilizer spectrum.


plants will usually will display definite deficiencies if required nutrients are not present in adequate concentrations. The following symptoms may occur if the level of one mineral nutrient is not high enough to be within the range needed for the best plant growth. A plant may exhibit a particular symptom for reasons other than a nutrient deficiency. If one of the deficiency symptoms occur , a lack of the proper nutrient may be suspected , and the amount of that nutrient should be increased.


Deficiency: young leaves are affected first and become small and distorted or chloro-tic with irregular margins, spotting or necrotic areas. roots may be underdeveloped or die back.

Toxicities: Difficult to distinguish visually. May precipitate with sulfur in solution and cause clouding or residue in tank.


Deficiency: Plants will exhibit lack of vigor as older leaves become yellow from lack of chlorophyll. Chloro-sis will eventually spread throughout the plant. Rest of plant is often light green.

Toxicity: leaves are often dark green and in the early stages abundant with foliage. If excess is severe, leaves will dry and begin to fall off. Root system will remain under developed or deteriorate after time. Fruit and flower set will be inhibited or deformed.


Deficiency: Older leaves turn yellow at edge.

Toxicity: Are rare and not generally exhibited visibly.


Deficiency: Leaf tips look burnt. Older leaves turning a dark green or reddish-purple.

Toxicity: The condition is rare and usually buffered by pH limitations. Excess phosphorus can interfere with the availability of copper and zinc.


Deficiency: Older leaves may wilt, look scorched. Inter veinal chloro-sis begins at the base, scorching in ward from leaf margins.

Toxicity: Usually not absorbed excessively by plants. Excess potassium can aggravate the uptake of magnesium, manganese, zinc and iron.


Deficiency: Younger leaves turn yellow first , sometimes followed by older leaves.

Toxicity: Leaf size will be reduced and overall growth will be stunted. Leaves yellowing or scorched at edges.


Cohesion: water is attracted to water, the water drop is composed of water molecules that like to stick together.

Adhesion: Water is attracted to other substances, the water drop is stuck to the end of the pine needles

Turbidity: Is the measure of relative clarity of a liquid. The higher the intensity of scattered light, the higher the turbidity. Material that causes water to be turbid include clay , silt , finely divided inorganic and organic matter.

Surface tension: The property of the surface of a liquid that allows it to resist an external force, due to the cohesive nature of its molecules.

Types of water pollution

Groundwater pollution - A lot of earth's water is found underground in soil or under rock structures called aquifers. We often use aquifers as a means to obtain drinking water, When this water becomes polluted it is called groundwater pollution. It is often cause by pesticide contamination from the soil and this can infect our water drinking and cause huge problems.

Point sources - Is a single identifiable source of pollution such as a pipe or a drain. Industrial wastes are commonly discharged to rivers and the sea in this way. High risk point source waste discharges are regulated by EPA through the works approval and licensing system, and associated compliance and enforcement activities.

Non-point source - This pollution is often termed "diffuse" pollution and refer to those inputs and impacts which occur over a wide area and are not easily attributed to a single source. The are often associated with particular land uses, as opposed to individual point source discharges.

Nutrients pollution - Some wastewater , fertilizers sewage contain high levels of nutrients. If they end up in water bodies, they encourage algae. This will make the water undrinkable , even clog filters. To much algae will also use up all the oxygen in the water and other water organisms in the water will die out of oxygen starvation.

Chemical water pollution - Many industries and farmers work with chemicals that end up in water this is common with point source pollution. These include chemicals that are used to control weeds , insects , pest. Metals and solvents from industries can pollute water bodies. These are poisonous to many forms of aquatic life and may slow their development, make them infertile and kill them.

Microbiological - In different communities in the world, people drink untreated water (straight from a river or stream). Sometimes there is natural pollution caused by microorganism like viruses, bacteria and protozoa. This natural pollution can cause fishes and other water life to die. They can also cause serious illness to humans who drink from such waters.

Water treatment

Industrial water treatment: In a water treatment plan, sewage goes through a number of chambers and chemical processes to reduce the amount and toxicity of the waste. The sewage first goes through a primary phase, Where some of the suspended and solid particles and inorganic material is removed by the use of filters. The secondary phase of the treatment involves the reduction of organic, This is done with the use of biological filters and processes that naturally degrade the organic waste material. The final stage of treatment is the tertiary phase, This stage must be done before the water can be reused. Almost all solid particles are removed from the water and chemical additives are supplied to get rid of any left over impurities.

Denitrification - Is an ecological that can be used to prevent the leaching of nitrates in soil, this in turn stops any ground water from being contaminated with nutrients. Fertilizers contain nitrogen, are often applied to crops by farmers to help plant growth and increase the yield. Bacteria in the soil convert the nitrogen in the fertilizer to nitrates, making it easier for the plants to absorb. Immobilization is a process where the nitrates become part of the soil organic matter. When oxygen levels are low, another form of bacteria then turns the nitrates into gases such as nitrogen, nitrous oxide and nitrogen dioxide. The conversion of these nitrates into gas is called denitrification. This prevents nitrates from leaching into the soil and contaminating groundwater.

Ozone wastewater treatment - Is a method that is increasing in popularity. It is used to break down pollutants in the water source. The generators convert oxygen into ozone by using ultraviolet radiation or by an electric discharge field. Ozone is a very reactive gas that can oxides bacteria, moulds , organic material and other pollutants found in water. Using this treatment has many benefits like mills bacteria effectively. Oxides substances such as iron and sulphur so that they can be filtered out of the solution. There are no nasty odors or residues produced from the treatment.

Water issues

In the US we are fortunate to have billions gallons of water clean water delivered daily to our homes, then piped away when done. Unfortunately, a lack of infrastructure funding could threaten our water. Our water resources are limitless and we need to protect them and conserve them.

Atoms and ions

Atomic theory: Dalton's atomic theory Was the first complete attempt to describe all matter in terms of atoms and their properties. He based his theory on the law of conservation of mass and the law of constant composition. The first part of Dalton's theory states that all matter is made of atoms, which are indivisible. The second part of the theory says all atoms of a given element are identical in mass and properties. The third part says that compounds are combinations of two or more different types of atoms. A chemical reaction is a rearrangement of atoms.

Ions: Are atoms or groups of atoms with a positive or negative charge

A-cat-ion: Has lost an electron(s) and therefore has a positive charge.

An-ions: Negative charge that gained an electron(s).

Ionic: A metal and non metal combined the charges and cancel each other out and add up to equal zero.

Created By
Janet Hernandez


Created with images by Comfreak - "light bulb current light" • acidpix - "Temperature in C° + R" • gholem - "fire wood fire heat" • stockerre - "Gold Platter Detail" • Hella TJ - "Metal" • CurtisMmedia - "paper stack white" • Filter Forge - "Rocky Soil" • USFWS/Southeast - "Mountain sweet pitcher plant displays its red veination" • Dirklaudio - "Gocce D'Acqua (Water Drops)" • avocadogirlfriend - "Water" • NASA Goddard Photo and Video - "VISIONS: Seeing the Aurora in a New Light"

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