The LCGC Blog: Research on Polarizing Environmental Topics Requires More Than Just Analytical Chemistry

Mar 06, 2018
By Kevin A. Schug

On Thursday afternoon at Pittcon 2018, I participated in a session titled “Advances in Environmental Analytical Chemistry: Impacts on Modern Petroleum Production Monitoring and Oil Spill Science,” which was organized by Ryan Rodgers of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University. I received the honorary co-organizer title, but Ryan was the one who initiated the effort, pulled it together, and saw it through to successful fruition.

It was an excellent session, featuring Imma Ferrer from University of Colorado, Frank Dorman from the Pennsylvania State University, and me speaking about analytical methodology to study the potential environmental impacts of unconventional oil and gas extraction (including hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”), as well as wastewater characterization and treatment. Further talks from Christopher Reddy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and Matthew Tarr of the University of New Orleans expanded the discussion into the characterization, the environmental impacts of, and the environmental effects (for example, photodegradation) on oil spills.

As you can imagine, the level of analytical science was very high. All of these researchers are considered leaders in the field. However, what was interesting were some of the non-analytical chemistry take-home messages gleaned from the discussion.