Associate Professor, Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, UTSC
Our research group seeks to gain a quantitative understanding of the interaction between environmental factors (most notably climate and characteristics depending on climate, such as surface cover) and the environmental fate and transport of organic chemicals, on the global scale, on the regional scale and in time. The rationale is to understand the variability of routes and the extent of contaminant exposure caused by environmental factors. A major objective of the research is to identify, mechanistically understand and quantitatively describe processes that lead to pollutant amplification in the environment, i.e. to identify and explain situations when concentrations of contaminants are higher further away from sources than at the sources themselves. To address these issues the research comprises environmental fate modeling, field- and laboratory-based studies on organic contaminant fate processes, and the investigation of the physical-chemical properties of organic contaminants.
The activities of the research group are currently focused on four inter-related themes. The first theme is the study of organic contaminant behavior in temperate and tropical mountain regions, specifically of the contaminant amplification processes that may be operating along elevation gradients. The second theme is the elucidation of the role that snow and ice play in the environmental fate of organic chemicals, again with a focus on how the unique properties of frozen water may lead to contaminant enrichment. Thirdly, we are seeking to predict changes in contaminant fate caused by a changing climate. Finally, we are developing and using novel sampling techniques for organic pollutants in the atmosphere, which are particularly suited for remote sites and developing regions.
More information on our activities can be found at www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~wania.