Matching Items (3)

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Dimensions of Phosphorus Sustainability: Phosphorus Flows in a Rapidly Growing City and Field Tests of Potential Agricultural Prototypes

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Phosphorus (P) is a limiting nutrient in ecosystems and is mainly used as fertilizer to grow food. The demand for P is increasing due to the need for increased food

Phosphorus (P) is a limiting nutrient in ecosystems and is mainly used as fertilizer to grow food. The demand for P is increasing due to the need for increased food supply to support a growing population. However, P is obtained from phosphate rock, a finite resource that takes millions of years to form. These phosphate rock deposits are found in only a few countries. This uneven distribution of phosphate rock leads to a potential imbalance in socio-economic systems, generating food security pressure due to unaffordability of P fertilizer. Thus, the first P-sustainability concern is a stable supply of affordable P fertilizer for agriculture. In addition, improper management of P from field to fork leaves an open end in the global P cycle that results in widespread water pollution. This eutrophication leads to toxic algal blooms and hypoxic “dead zones”. Thus, the second P-sustainability concern involves P pollution from agriculture and cities. This thesis focuses on P flows in a city (Macau as a case study) and on potential strategies for improvements of sustainable P management in city and agriculture. Chapter 2 showed a P-substance-flow analysis for Macau from 1998-2016. Macau is a city with a unique economy build on tourism. The major P flows into Macau were from food, detergent, and sand (for land reclamation). P recovery from wastewater treatment could enhance Macau’s overall P sustainability if the recovered P could be directed towards replacing mined P used to produce food. Chapters 3 and 4 tested a combination of P sustainability management tactics including recycling P from cities and enhancing P-use efficiency (PUE) in agriculture. Algae and biosolids were used as recycled-P fertilizers, and genetically transformed lettuce was used as the a PUE-enhanced crop. This P sustainable system was compared to the conventional agricultural system using commercial fertilizer and the wild type lettuce. Chapters 3 and 4 showed that trying to combine a PUE-enhancement strategy with P recycling did not work well, although organic fertilizers like algae and biosolids may be more beneficial as part of longer-term agricultural practices. This would be a good area for future research.

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Date Created
  • 2020

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Identification of N-Nitrosodimethylamine precursors to improve their control

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N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) is a probable human carcinogen and drinking water disinfection by-product. NDMA forms as the product of reactions between chloramines and precursor compounds in water. This dissertation aims to

N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) is a probable human carcinogen and drinking water disinfection by-product. NDMA forms as the product of reactions between chloramines and precursor compounds in water. This dissertation aims to provide insight into the removal of NDMA precursors, their nature, and a method to aid in their identification. Watershed-derived precursors accounted for more of and greater variability to NDMA formation upon chloramination than polymer-derived precursors in environmental samples. Coagulation polymers are quaternary amines, which have low NDMA yield but high use rates. Watershed-derived precursors were removed up to 90% by sorption to activated carbon, but activated carbon exhibited much less (<10%) sorption of polymer-derived precursors. Combined with literature NDMA molar yields of model anthropogenic compounds, where anthropogenic chemicals in some cases have NDMA yields >90% and biological compounds always have yields <2%, trace, organic, amine containing, anthropogenic chemicals were implicated as the most likely source of NDMA precursors in the watershed. Although activated carbon removes these precursors well, identification of individual compounds may result in more cost effective mitigation strategies. Therefore, I developed a method to isolate NDMA precursors from other organic matter into methanol to facilitate their identification. Optimization of the method resulted in a median recovery of NDMA precursors of 82% from 10 surface waters and one wastewater. The method produces 1,000X concentrated NDMA precursors and, in collaboration with the University of Colorado Center for Environmental Mass Spectrometry, time of flight mass spectrometry (TOF-MS) was performed on multiple treated wastewater and raw drinking water isolates. During TOF-MS, tertiary amines can cleave to form a neutral loss and an R group ion that is dependent on the original structure and I wrote a software program to “trawl” exported TOF-MS spectra for the diagnostic neutral loss resulting from fragmentation of tertiary amines. Methadone was identified as one new NDMA precursor that occurs at concentrations that form physiologically relevant levels of NDMA in surface water and wastewater. The approach used here to identify NDMA precursors is adaptable to other unknown disinfection by-product precursors given that a functional group is known that can 1)control sorption and 2)produce a predictable diagnostic fragment.

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Date Created
  • 2015

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Non-traditional stable isotope variations: applications for biomedicine

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Applications of non-traditional stable isotope variations are moving beyond geosciences to biomedicine, made possible by advances in multiple collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC-ICP-MS) technology. Mass-dependent isotope variation can

Applications of non-traditional stable isotope variations are moving beyond geosciences to biomedicine, made possible by advances in multiple collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC-ICP-MS) technology. Mass-dependent isotope variation can provide information about the sources of elements and the chemical reactions that they undergo. Iron and calcium isotope systematics in biomedicine are relatively unexplored but have great potential scientific interest due to their essential nature in metabolism. Iron, a crucial element in biology, fractionates during biochemically relevant reactions. To test the extent of this fractionation in an important reaction process, equilibrium iron isotope fractionation during organic ligand exchange was determined. The results show that iron fractionates during organic ligand exchange, and that isotope enrichment increases as a function of the difference in binding constants between ligands. Additionally, to create a mass balance model for iron in a whole organism, iron isotope compositions in a whole mouse and in individual mouse organs were measured. The results indicate that fractionation occurs during transfer between individual organs, and that the whole organism was isotopically light compared with food. These two experiments advance our ability to interpret stable iron isotopes in biomedicine. Previous research demonstrated that calcium isotope variations in urine can be used as an indicator of changes in net bone mineral balance. In order to measure calcium isotopes by MC-ICP-MS, a chemical purification method was developed to quantitatively separate calcium from other elements in a biological matrix. Subsequently, this method was used to evaluate if calcium isotopes respond when organisms are subjected to conditions known to induce bone loss: 1) Rhesus monkeys were given an estrogen-suppressing drug; 2) Human patients underwent extended bed rest. In both studies, there were rapid, detectable changes in calcium isotope compositions from baseline - verifying that calcium isotopes can be used to rapidly detect changes in bone mineral balance. By characterizing iron isotope fractionation in biologically relevant processes and by demonstrating that calcium isotopes vary rapidly in response to bone loss, this thesis represents an important step in utilizing these isotope systems as a diagnostic and mechanistic tool to study the metabolism of these elements in vivo.

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Date Created
  • 2011