About this course
This course examines the chemical and biological quality of resources in the circular economy. Recovering and reusing waste streams is required to realize a truly circular, bio-based economy. However, these waste streams can contain contaminants that can hinder safe reuse. Thus, this course considers the resource quality aspects that must be considered when resources are reused in short cycles. Focus is placed on organic, nutrient, and water cycles, however other resources are considered in the course.
The course first gives an introduction to the chemical and biological contaminants that may be present in waste streams. Chemical contaminants include emerging contaminants such as micropollutants, industrial contaminants, nutrients, and salts. Biological contamination focuses on pathogenic fecal bacteria and viruses, opportunistic pathogens, and antibiotic resistance. For both chemical and biological contaminants, students learn the sources of these pollutants, their accumulation or dissipation in different environmental technologies, and their fate in environmental systems and perform calculations.
After an introduction to the contaminants, students learn about the risks associated with the contaminants. To this end, students receive lectures and perform tutorials to calculate the risks associated with biological and chemical contaminants in environmental systems and drinking water systems. These exercises provide a good understanding of methods to determine risks associated with contaminants in resource cycles.
Finally, mitigation options are covered to give an understanding of the available methods to ensure resource quality. These cover environmental technologies to remove contaminants, policy instruments to control contaminant use and release, and monitoring tools that can be used to screen for resource quality and determine effects.
After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand the need of establishing safe resource cycles in sustainable economies;
- understand which chemical and biological entities can cause problems in multiple recycling systems by threatening biodiversity, food quality and health;
- understand the fate and dispersion behaviour of these entities on various system scales, including natural attenuation effects, and how to apply this knowledge in screening, monitoring, and risk assessment methods;
- synthesize their knowledge and insight into risk assessment, mitigation and prevention strategies, and to apply these in various technological and management approaches;
- extrapolate this knowledge towards management recommendations based on the trade-offs between resource sustainability and safeguarding environmental and human health
This course integrates content from a variety of areas. Students should at least have a broad background or affinity with: chemical and biological contaminants, closing resource cycles, system analysis, urban and environmental technologies and management practices, basic mathematical and risk assessment tools.