Subsurface Contaminants

 

This is a collaboration of four boards of the National Academies’ Division of Earth and Life Studies: 
Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology (BCST); 
Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology (BEST); 
Board Earth Sciences and Resources (BESR); and
Water Science and Technology Board (WSTB).
Sessions at upcoming meetings of each board will include invited presentations and discussions to address various aspects of this overarching question:
What are Key Challenges and Advances for Assessing the Quality of
 the Subsurface Environment and Managing Risks?

Overall Purpose 

 

Through a series of complementary topical sessions, we will explore scientific issues concerning transport, transformation, and exposure pathways of subsurface contaminants, such as metals, organics, and radionuclides.  Examples from a wide range of potential applications include waste site management decision-making, characterizing the spread of contaminants from abandoned mines, and pollution prevention planning for energy development.


This is a collaboration of four boards of the National Academies’ Division of Earth and Life Studies: 


  • Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology (BCST);
  • Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology (BEST);
  • Board Earth Sciences and Resources (BESR); and
  • Water Science and Technology Board (WSTB).

 

Sessions at upcoming meetings of each board will include invited presentations and discussions to address various aspects of this overarching question:

What are Key Challenges and Advances for Assessing the Quality of the Subsurface Environment and Managing Risks?

 

 

Video Archives 

 

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Four-Part Spring Series

 

The sessions are intended to identify common needs, concerns, and challenges across disciplines and sectors, to highlight research and technology advances and gaps, and to determine how the Academies can best contribute to this topic.  Each session will be webcast and posted onto the Academies’ website. In addition, a brief written document is planned that summarizes the four sessions.


BCST Session, March 2, 2018 (Part I of 4)

This session focused on the complex chemistry of the subsurface environment and how it affects contaminant transport.  A specific example was considered to illustrate the use of advanced synchrotron and other techniques to elucidate mechanisms and inform decision makers.  The topic of how molecular-level information and small-scale models can be incorporated into larger-scale transport models was discussed.


BEST Session, April 12, 2018 (Part 2 of 4)

This session focused on approaches for characterizing exposure pathways of subsurface contaminants to humans and ecosystems.  The session also will seek to identify key information needs to improve risk assessments and risk management decisions.  The latest research on uptake of subsurface contaminants by flora and fauna will be explored.   Specific case examples will be discussed that illustrate the kinds of risk management decisions that rely upon a thorough characterization of exposure pathways.


BESR Session, April 26, 2018 (Part 3 of 4)

This session will focus on the interaction between fluids and heterogeneous rocks in the subsurface.  Identification, characterization, visualization, and monitoring of potential fluid pathways (e.g., faults, fractures, contacts between rock units) and fluid behavior will be discussed.  The importance of modeling across scales for providing links back to issues raised in the BCST and BEST sessions also will be considered.  Other areas to be explored are analytic approaches (e.g., isotopic analysis) for characterizing the origins of potentially harmful substances in subsurface locations. | Register Here


WSTB Session, May 17, 2018 (Part 4 of 4)

This session will focus on the broad challenges related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in the subsurface. The session will examine the compounds, what is known and unknown about them and their behavior in the subsurface, their fate and transport, toxicity, and treatment through a series of presentations and case studies. | Register Here