Urban areas are a major source of water pollution in developing countries where a significant (but often unknown) fraction of urban wastewater is discharged with little or no treatment. Urban wastewater contains a range of synthetic organic compounds (e.g. pharmaceuticals, home and personal care products) which can result in major ecological impacts. Understanding the sources, transport and transformation of pollutants and their impact on receiving ecosystems is crucial for effective water resource management and the reduction of chemical risks to people and the environment.
In this project, we will improve our understanding of pollutant behaviour in rivers under direct (untreated) discharge scenarios and develop a model of waste-water derived pollutant exposure and ecotoxicological effects in surface waters within and beyond urban areas. The model will act as an extended hypothesis which will be calibrated and tested via field investigations in Kerala, India. The impact of organic pollutants from urban waste water on surface water quality will be evaluated using a combination of existing water quality data and new monitoring of concentrations and fluxes of marker compounds intended to be representative of particular uses (e.g. personal care products, laundry product ingredients or pharmaceuticals) and chemical properties (e.g. hydrophobicity, degradability and toxic mode of action).
The in-channel fate of organic pollutants will depend on physico-chemical properties and compound degradability as well as environmental factors like temperature, pH, suspended solids concentration, dissolved organic carbon concentration and the hydraulics of the receiving system. We hypothesise that biodegradation will be more rapid in shallow streams than in deep rivers because the size of the competent microbial biomass in the water column is low compared with that in biofilms attached to the wetted perimeter of the channel. This means that degradation will depend on contact time with the fixed biofilm.
UK Bachelor Degree with at least 2:1 in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent.
Available for UK and EU applicants only.
Applicants must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility: http://www.nerc.ac.uk/skills/postgrad/
How to Apply:
Please follow refer to the How to Apply section at http://www2.le.ac.uk/study/research/funding/centa/how-to-apply-for-a-centa-project
and use the Geography Apply button to submit your PhD application.
Upload your CENTA Studentship Form in the proposal section of the application form.
In the funding section of the application please indicate you wish to be considered for NERC CENTA Studentship.
Under the proposal section please provide the name of the supervisor and project title/project code you want to apply for.
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Li, Z., Sobek, A. and Radke, M. (2015) ‘Flume Experiments to Investigate the Environmental Fate of Pharmaceuticals and Their Transformation Products in Streams’, Environmental Science & Technology, 49, pp. 6009-6017.
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Whelan, M.J., van Egmond, R., Guymer, I., Lacoursiere, J.O. , Vought, L.M.B., Finnegan, C., Fox, K.K., Sparham, C., O’Connor, S., Vaughan, M. and Pearson, J.M (2007) ‘The Behaviour of Linear Alkyl Benzene Sulphonate Under Direct Discharge Conditions in Vientiane, Lao PDR’, Water Research, 41, pp. 4730-4740.