The Chemical and Physical Nature of Particulate Matter Affecting Air, Water and Soil Quality. (ncr174)
A common thread that runs through much environmental research is the importance of processes that operate simultaneously on different spatial and temporal scales. For instance, major questions surround particulate matter affecting rural air, soil, and water quality. The technical feasibility of applying synchrotron-based methods to a wide range of sample sizes and chemical compositions is amply supported by the current scientific literature. The utilization of a combination of techniques to accomplish full characterization of particles and to relate these properties to behavior in complex systems has become increasingly important and successful. We will extend these tested approaches to agricultural systems. There are several advantages in doing this project as a multi-state effort. First, particulate matter (PM) is transported across state and
regional boundaries by both air and water making it a regional rather than local problem. Second, we expect rural PM emissions vary because livestock industry, crops, farming practices, soils, and water chemistry vary regionally. Third, the central focus of this project (integrated modern instrumentation, including synchrotron microspectroscopy) demands extensive cooperation among members: sharing experience with specific facilities and analytical techniques and sharing disciplinary expertise (soil, water, and air chemistry, microbiology, etc.). Fourth, this project has two implicit strategies for reaching its objectives. It will continue to promote the use of synchrotron sources to push the envelope in terms of micro-spectroscopic characterization of particles and will integrate synchrotron techniques with other state-of-art-tools provided by national labs and universities. In the past,
synchrotron research by soil scientists primarily focused on industrial contaminants, i.e., metals and metalloids. There are many opportunities now with micro-focused techniques to study agricultural contaminants that will link more basic soil science with applied soil science, particularly in the area of nutrient management. This project will enhance our ability to assess the impact of micro- and nano-sized particles on processes taking place in agricultural and natural ecosystems by elucidating links between particulate (physical, biological and chemical) properties and their role in the sustainability and productivity of those systems. Research activities coordinated under this project will result in a catalog of physical and chemical properties of particulates related to agriculture production and of evaluations of the rate and transfer mechanisms of particulates through the
environment. A greater number of scientists from state agricultural experiment stations will be utilizing the advanced analytical facilities funded by DOE and NSF to address important questions related to environmental protection and agricultural production. This will lead to the development a better understanding of the behavior of pollutant and nutrient elements and compounds associated with fine particles in soil, water and air.