A Multidisciplinary Approach to Quantify and Model the Transport and Deposition of Organic Pollutants in Coastal Environments: Science and Engineering Environmental Research (SEER) Project #1

EPA Grant Number: R829424E02
Title: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Quantify and Model the Transport and Deposition of Organic Pollutants in Coastal Environments: Science and Engineering Environmental Research (SEER) Project #1
Investigators: Goni, Miguel , Ferry, John L. , Voulgaris, George
Institution: University of South Carolina at Columbia
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: October 1, 2001 through September 30, 2003
Project Amount: $198,993
RFA: EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) (2000) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: EPSCoR (The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research)


The University of South Carolina is in the process of building a nationally recognized, extramurally-supported program focused on measuring the physical, chemical, and biological processes governing the fate of persistent organic pollutants in coastal environments. It is proposed to expand the community of environmental scientists through the hire of a contaminant transport modeler, with the tenure-track position based in the Department of Geological Sciences. Proposal resources will cover start-up costs and facilitate mentoring of the hire by association with colleagues that have received EPA support. The research will incorporate the new position into a multidisciplinary research team investigating the effects of urbanization of coastal areas, focusing on the association of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) with the sediment phase. Two key issues directly affect the ability of environmental managers to assess the effects and mitigate the impacts of enhanced pollutant loadings in estuaries. One is the determination of the sources and mode of contaminant introduction in coastal areas. The second is the estimation of pollutant residence times in estuaries. The objectives are aimed to specifically address these two issues by conducting intensive sampling, analyses and modeling of the fluxes and compositions of PAHs in coordination with a suite of physical and chemical measurements of fluid flow and sediment dynamics.


To accomplish this goal, water flow, fractional suspended sediment concentrations, dissolved, colloid- and particle-bound PAHs concentrations will be measured along three transects in the upper mid-section of an impacted estuary (Winyah Bay, SC). The stable isotopic compositions of PAHs will be measured to infer their sources. Based on these data, a contaminant budget for the study area, including fluxes across the boundaries and short-term pollutant deposition in bay sediments, will be calculated in order to estimate the residence time of PAHs in this system. Finally, these measurements will be integrated into a 3-D model that will be applied to other environmental conditions and other estuaries within the state.

Expected Results:

The research will provide diagnostic and predictive information on the transport, deposition and dispersion of contaminants in estuaries. Improvements in our current risk assessment and risk management capabilities are expected by incorporating the measured chemical and physical variables into a 3-dimensional water quality model similar to the Environmental Fluid Dynamics Code developed and implemented by EPA. The proposed hire of a contaminant transport modeler will strengthen the expertise in this critical research area. This work complements on-going research at USC focused on understanding the factors controlling the toxicological properties and bioavailability of contaminants in estuarine systems. Hence, the proposed research will also foster synergistic interactions among researchers at USC and help build a strong Environmental Sciences program at the university.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 19 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 5 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, sediment, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Waste, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Hydrology, Contaminated Sediments, Environmental Chemistry, State, chemical mixtures, Fate & Transport, Ecology and Ecosystems, aquatic life, biogeochemical partitioning, aquatic ecosystem, fate and transport, organic pollutants, contaminant transport, erosion, predictive understanding, resuspension, sediment transport, transport contaminants, bioavailability, contaminated sediment, PAH, modeling, aquatic ecosystems, South Carolina (SC), ecology assessment models, aquatic biota, ecological research

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2002 Progress Report
  • Final Report