Chemistry 301: Aqueous Environmental Chemistry

Course Level: 
Third Year
Academic Year: 

Course  Description:   Introduction to properties and composition of natural waters.  Gas and solid equilibria, pH, redox chemistry, complexation, corrosion treatment, acid rain, ion exchange, colloids and microbial transformations.

Credits:  3.0

Prerequisite:  One of Chem 201, 205 or 251 (physical chemistry)

Time and Classroom:  MWF  9:00-10:00, CHEM B150

Teaching Team

     Anka Lekhi (until 4 Oct)

Contact Info: Phone; 604-827-3492; e-mail: 

Office: D223

Office Hours:  Tuesdays 12-2, Friday 3-4:30, or by appointment

     Kristin Orians (after 5 Oct)

Contact Info: Phone; 604-822-6571; e-mail: 

Office: ESB 3055

Office Hours:  After class, Wednesday 1:30-2:30pm, or by appointment

T.A.:  Yurou Sang

Contact Info: e-mail: 

Office Hours:  After class, tba, or by appointment

In-class Participation (“clickers”):  2-6 clicker questions per lecture, some marked for participation only, some for accuracy as well.  (2% for participation on 80% of all questions, 1% for correct answer on 80% of accuracy questions - 20% grace)

Problem Sets:  best 5 of 6 problem sets, due one week after they are assigned (1% each)      (to be assessed through on-line quizzes on Connect)

Exams:  2 Midterms (Friday, October 9 and Friday, November 13) and Final (tba)

Calculator for Exams: You will need the standard UBC Science calculator (Sharp EL-510R or EL-510RN), sold in the computer shop at the UBC bookstore, if you wish to use a calculator for any of your exams. No other calculators will be allowed.

Grading:  In-class clickers 0-3%; Problem Sets / Quizzes 5% (best 5 of 6); Midterms 20% each; Final 52-55% (clicker scores only used when that gives you a better result)

Classnotes:  Notes will be available for download from the course “Connect” site ( 


Optional Textbooks:

“Environmental Chemistry” 5th Ed., C. Baird and M. Cann

“Environmental Chemistry” 9th Ed., S.E. Manahan


Other References

“Environmental Chemistry: a Global Perspective”, G.W. vanLoon and S.J. Duffy

“Environmental Chemistry”, N. Bunce

“Principles of Environmental Chemistry”, J.E. Girard

“Aquatic Chemistry”, W. Stumm and J.J. Morgan

“Aquatic Chemistry Concepts”, J.F. Pankow


Course Outline:

1.  Properties of natural waters, fundamentals of environmental chemistry  (7 lectures)

-  The hydrologic cycle, physical properties of water, seasonal cycles in lakes, dissolved gases and limnic eruptions, carbonate equilibria, buffers, alkalinity, basicity, water hardness, hydrolysis of metals.

2.  Complexation  (4 lectures)

-  Speciation, coordination, solubility, chelation by natural and anthropogenic ligands, humic substances, stability constants.

3.  Redox equilibria  (4 lectures)

- pε, Nernst equation, pε-pH diagrams, corrosion.

4.  Phase interactions (Liquid-Solid-Gas)  (4 lectures)

-  Sediments, clay minerals, intrinsic solubility, aggregation, sorption, ion exchange, processes in sediments and interstitial waters.

5.  Microbial transformations  (4 lectures)

-  Microbially mediated redox reactions, transformations of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur and iron, acid rock drainage (ARD).

6.  Water pollution  (6 lectures)

-  Metals, organometallics, cyanide, nutrients, soaps/detergents, acidity, pesticides, dioxins, PCB's, radioactivity.

7.  Water treatment  (3 lectures)

-  Primary, secondary and tertiary treatments, methods for removal of metals, organics and solids, sewage and hazardous waste treatment.