Heavy metals in the environment add to the global burden of pollution, negatively impacting public health and ecosystem resilience. This study included projects regarding uranium (U), lead (Pb), and rare earth elements (REE) in natural samples, due to their known toxicity, ubiquity, and relevance in context to recent pollution trends. The first project focused on testing the potential of using a hydroxyapatite product as a remediation solution for U-contaminated groundwater and soil at an EPA Superfund site. The results showed that the U was sequestered in a highly crystalline mineral form within the solids, guiding the EPA to specify the use of the material for cleanup of U at the site. The second and third projects focused on the sourcing of metal pollution in a region of high interest, the coastline of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, along the Red Sea. Depth-resolved samples from three sediment cores from the shoreline were analyzed for Pb and REE concentrations and Pb isotopic ratios. Results revealed that major sources of Pb inputs to the region are from dust storms carrying particles north from the southern Arabian Peninsula, with additional components from gasoline and weathering from the mountains. Analysis of REE revealed that pollution from oil refining is also having a major impact on the coastline sediments, a new discovery that has not been reported for this region.
Civil and Environmental Engineering
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Rasmussen, Hope, "Characterization of Uranium, Lead, and Rare Earth Element Pollution in Natural Soils and Sediments" (2021). Civil and Environmental Engineering Theses and Dissertations. 13.
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