What is Environmental Chemistry?

Environmental Chemistry addresses today´s global challenges caused by increasing industrialization and overexploitation of natural resources. Contamination is not restricted to one compartment (air, soil, or water), but affects whole ecosystems and often has a considerable political dimension.

Well-known examples are, amongst many other examples, e.g.

  • forest decline caused by acid rain
  • ozone depletion caused by the persistence of halogenated hydrocarbons
  • the release of greenhouse gases caused by the combustion of fossil fuel or large-scale rice production
  • eutrophication of lakes caused by over fertilisation of agricultural land
  • watercourse acidification and release of heavy metals in post-mine landscapes
  • coral bleaching as a consequence of global warming
  • damage to marine ecosystems caused by oil disasters
  • the enrichment of micro plastic particles in the environment
  • the appearance of pollutants in food products
  • the depletion and lack of certain nutrients

Knowledge on sustainable use of resources often lags behind industrial development. Emerging countries often repeat the same mistakes that industrialized countries did in the past, and nowadays are confronted with irreparable damage or cost-intensively try to repair these. The key to future sustainable resource management, current impact prediction, and prudent cleanup of past contaminated sites is a solid understanding of Environmental Chemistry.

The master programme Environmental Chemistry addresses students with a strong interest in chemistry and environmental sciences who envision their future career in an international context. This includes students from countries that already address environmental contaminations as well as students from countries wherein environmental problems caused by increasing industrialization develop dramatically but that did not yet develop approaches to efficiently face such problems. One of the goals of the master programme is to integrate different perceptions of environmental chemical problems from various stages of development and socio-economic backgrounds into the education of students, and to present environmental chemistry in an international context (for further details see Study Programme).