Menu UF Health Home Menu

Environmental Forensics 1

  • PHA 6935 Environmental Forensics 1

    Credits: 3


    This course will introduce students to principles of environmental forensic science. In particular, you will learn about the transport and fate of chemicals in the environment. The environmental “crime scene,” where pollution first occurs, is often hundreds of kilometers away from the area most impacted by the pollution. Along the way, pollutants undergo changes as they interact with the environment. Linking a pollutant to its source involves understanding and quantifying these changes.

    NOTE: This course requires some basic knowledge of mathematics and chemistry to a first-year university level. Some of the concepts in this course will be illustrated through the use of spreadsheets. You will need to have a copy of the spreadsheet program Microsoft Excel (2003 or later) on your computer to open these spreadsheets. You will be directed how to download these files. Some of the spreadsheets run sub-programs called “Macros”. When you open these files, you may see a message warning you that the program contains Macros. You will be asked to either Disable Macros or Enable Macros. Make sure you choose Enable Macros.


    Please review our recommended course order.


    Module Topic
    Section 1 Introduction
    Module 1 What is Environmental Forensic Science?
    Section 2 Environmental pollutants
    Module 2 Toxicity of environmental contaminants
    Module 3 Oil contamination: Hydrocarbon fingerprinting
    Section 3 Fate of chemicals in the environment
    Module 4 Environmental partitioning
    Module 5 Biological transformations
    Section 4 Contaminant transport by groundwater
    Module 6 Environmental Transport Models
    Module 7 Groundwater Transport
    Section 5 Transport of Atmospheric pollutants
    Module 8 Atmospheric Dispersion

    At the end of this course, students should be able to:

    • Describe what an environmental forensic scientist does
    • Describe legal processes involving environmental forensic science
    • Understand the relationship between dose and toxicity
    • Formulate measures of toxicity
    • Perform calculations related to toxicity
    • Understand the concepts of bioconcentration, bio-accumulation and biomagnification
    • Describe various classes of toxic compounds
    • Understand how the genesis of crude oil relates to its composition
    • Interpret oil “fingerprints” from gas chromatography (GC) and mass spectrometry (MS)
    • Apply biomarker metrics to identify hydrocarbons
    • Describe the principles of chemical partitioning in the environment
    • Describe the types of biological transformations that impact on organic compounds in the environment
    • Understand the basic principles of analytical and numerical environmental transport models
    • Understand the process of groundwater contamination
    • Describe analytical and numerical models used for groundwater contamination
    • Understand the principles of atmospheric dispersion of pollutants
    • Describe models of atmospheric pollution

    Recommended Materials

    The following text is recommended but not compulsory. You will be able to complete the course without it, but it is a good companion.

    Introduction to Environmental Forensics
    Author: Brian L. Murphy & Robert D. Morrison
    Publisher: Elsevier; 2nd edition (3/21/2007)
    ISBN: 0123695228

    Library Access

    Distance Education and UF Online Students enjoy the same library privileges as on-campus students.
    To utilize the University of Florida Library System, click here!

    At a Glance

    Key Dates

    Subscribe to Investigator