Kenneth M. Kemner
Environmental Research, Argonne National Laboratory
High-Energy X-ray Physics to Address Environmental Science Problems

A current challenge in environmental science is building a knowledge base for developing environmentally sound, yet cost effective, remediation strategies and realistic environmental risk assessments. One major concern - bioavailability - is determined by the movement of contaminants through the environment (air, land, water), their uptake into biota, and their introduction into and transport through the food chain to humans. Thus, understanding the fate and transport mobility of contaminants in the environment is fundamental to the development and evaluation of effective remediation and sequestration strategies.

The chemical speciation of a contaminant in the environment can control its mobility, its bioavailability, and ultimately its toxicity to organisms including humans. Additional factors affecting the mobility of a contaminant include the physical location of the contaminant relative to the different geological media through which it is moving, as well as the effects of living organisms and their biological processes on the contaminant and media. Thus, addressing many of today?s key environmental science questions requires an integrated multidisciplinary approach encompassing such fields as biology, chemistry, geology, and physics. The availability of the Advanced Photon Source (APS) presents a unique opportunity for synchrotron scientists and physicists to pursue an integrated approach and address environmental science questions with new perspectives.

We have begun to develop an integrated multidisciplinary team of physicists, chemists, biologists, and geologists to address environmental science problems. The presentation will include results from APS-based investigations of: 1) the interactions of metal contaminants with mineral and biological surfaces, 2) the formation of minerals by biological processes and interactions of contaminants with biomineralization products, and 3) samples of Beethoven?s hair in forensic studies of the causes of some of his illnesses and his death.