Tracking emerging contaminants in the Great Lakes

photo of Diana Aga.

Advanced manufacturing will help revitalize Western New York’s economy. But just like 20th century manufacturing, it poses pollution risks, especially to freshwater.

Researchers will gather data on how emerging contaminants (such as pharmaceuticals, heavy metals used in engineered nanomaterials and carbon nanotubes) travel through wastewater systems and into surface waters.

In the lab, the team will evaluate:

  • How effective common wastewater treatment technologies are at removing or transforming these emerging contaminants.
  • Whether the transformation products are of ecological concern by testing how these materials affect the metabolism of plants and other biological organisms that may be exposed to them.
  • The design and efficiency of engineered nanomaterials for solar energy harvesting, and energy conversion and storage.

The project’s principal investigator is Diana Aga, professor in the Department of Chemistry.  Co-principal investigators are David Watson, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, and Ning Dai, assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering. Jill Jedlicka, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper executive director, is a collaborator.