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)

Recommended Courses: Chem 202 (coordination chemistry), and one of Chem 204, 233 or 260 (organic chemistry)

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

Instructor:  Dr. Kristin J. Orians

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.’s:  Yurou Sang (away Oct. 8-20)

Contact Info: e-mail: 

Office Hours:  After class, Fridays 2-3pm (in CHEM A223), 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:  5 of 6 problem sets, due one week after they are assigned (1% each)

Exams:  2 Midterms (Fri., October 3 and Wed., November 5) and Final (tba)

Calculator for Exams: You will need the standard UBC Science calculator (Sharp EL-510R or EL-510RN(B)), sold in the computer shop at the UBC bookstore, if you wish to use a calculator for any of your exams.

Grading:  In-class clickers 3%; Problem Sets 5% (best 5 of 6); Midterms 20% each; Final - 52%.  (Or 55% for final, 0% for clickers – whichever gives you the best result)

Optional Textbooks:

“Environmental Chemistry” 4th Ed., C. Baird and M. Cann

“Environmental Chemistry” 8th Ed., S.E. Manahan

Classnotes:  Notes (without copyright protected figures) will be available for download from the course “Connect” site ( 

Other References

“Environmental Chemistry” 2nd Ed., Nigel Bunce

“Fundamentals of Environmental Chemistry”, 2nd Ed., Manahan

“Principles of Environmental Chemistry”, James Girard

“Aquatic Chemistry” 3rd Ed., W. Stumm and J.J. Morgan

“Aquatic Chemistry Concepts”,  Pankow

Course Outline:

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

-  The hydrologic cycle, physical properties of water, ions, dissolved gases, carbonate equilibria, acidity, alkalinity, basicity.

2.  Complexation  (5 lectures)

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

3.  Redox equilibria  (4 lectures)

- pE, Nernst equation, pE-pH diagrams

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

-  Aggregation, coagulation, flocculation, sorption, ion exchange, processes in sediments and interstitial waters

5.  Microbial action  (4 lectures)

-  Microbially mediated redox reactions, transformations of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur and iron.

6.  Water pollution  (6 lectures)

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

7.  Water treatment  (4 lectures)

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