Pollutant Transfer Between Air, Water and Soil: Criteria for Comprehensive Pollution Control Strategy

Ramesh C. Chawla
M. M. Varma

DOI: 10.2190/WYV2-FTB2-ETXD-8C2G


Large amounts of pollutants are continuously discharged into air, water or soil – the three domains of the Ecosystem. These domains have mutual interactions in terms of mass transfer, which affect the concentration of these pollutants both temporally and spacially in all domains. The intra-domain interactions that influence the pollutant transfer between air, water and soil may be either due to the bulk phase transfer (e.g., acid rain) or due to interfacial transfer (e.g., pesticide evaporation from soil to air). The mathematical equations based on the general principles of mass transfer such as Fick's Law of Diffusion and Rault's Law, and equilibrium relationships can quantitatively predict the pollutant transfer from one phase to another.

Thus far, our pollution control efforts have been directed at each individual domain without much regard to their effect on the other domains. This has, in some cases, merely shifted the problem instead of solving it. A basic understanding of transfer processes is presented here. The problem of trihalomethanes in water is discussed to support the case for a comprehensive pollution control strategy which makes both technical and economic sense.

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