Illinois Sustainable Technology Center - University of Illinois

PCBs in Chicago: Sources, Transport, Fate, Exposure, and Policies

Presented by Scott Spak - Assistant Professor, University of Iowa

November 10, 2016

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Why are pollutants banned in 1979 still found at 1980s levels in Illinois air? How can we learn to clean up legacy pollutants and emerging contaminants from hundreds of unknown sources? Quantifying current conditions, estimating contemporary and historical exposures, identifying toxicological thresholds, and optimizing effective control policies for persistent organic pollutants all require accurate local assessment of sources, chemical transport, and impacts for complex mixtures of thousands of known and potentially toxic compounds. Here, we use PCBs and other semi-volatile organic pollutants in Chicago as a case study to build a transferable method to develop that knowledge through parcel-scale emissions inventories, chemical transport modeling, exposure studies, and variational data assimilation using publicly available data, international and urban observational networks, and US EPA regulatory models.

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