A Venetian tale of environmental progress
You've probably heard of that famous sinking city in Italy.
Venice stands upon a flawed structure known as a multiphase porous medium
system. Such systems are all around us, for example: groundwater systems,
petroleum reservoirs, geothermal heat sources, water filters, fuel cells,
plants, human skin, and even our lungs.
Environmental Sciences and Engineering professors William G.
, and Cass T. Miller, PhD
, and their colleagues and students work on
multiphase porous media systems. Together, they developed the thermodynamically
constrained averaging theory. This theory resolves many of the previous
longstanding problems with modeling such systems and provides a framework
to advance models of varying sophistication that can be
applied broadly to multiphase porous medium systems.
Miller and Gray's work in this area provides tools that will
improve design and management,
and guide policy change for a wide range of health and
environmental problems, including water
supply, environmental quality restoration, and global
Easing the burden of industrialization in the UAE
Dr. MacDonald Gibson
The United Arab Emirates is one of the most remarkable
development stories of the modern world. In less than two generations, the UAE
has grown from a collection of small coastal settlements to a modern,
cosmopolitan nation with skyscrapers, modern industries, and superhighways -
achieving what has taken other nations six generations. This development
has improved quality and length of life, but has also placed
an environmental burden on the health of its people.
Environmental health is measured by the excess number of
deaths and illnesses due to exposure to pollutants in air, water, soil, and
food as well as global climate change.
Referred to as the "environmental burden of disease,"
experts at UNC have found that each year approximately:
200-1100 deaths are linked to outdoor air pollution
100-410 deaths are linked to indoor air pollution
60,000-200,000 doctor's visits are due to coastal water
16,000-63,000 doctor's visits are due to drinking water
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To improve environmental health in the UAE, the Environment
Agency--Abu Dhabi (EAD) selected and funded our School through a competitive
proposal process to lead the National Environmental Health Project. Led by
environmental sciences and engineering assistant professor, Jacqueline
MacDonald Gibson, PhD
, the project represents global interdisciplinary
teamwork at its best. More than 20 faculty at the School
work with numerous outside partner agencies in teams to assess outdoor air
pollution, indoor air quality, water contamination and diet/exercise in the
A captain on board for water quality
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Environmental sciences and engineering Kenan Professor, Hans
, sets sail aboard a ferry in North Carolina's Pamlico Sound to
discover how water quality is affected by chronic problems like pollution, and
temporary problems like record droughts and tropical storms.
He heads the FerryMon program (Ferry-based Monitoring of
Surface Water Quality in North Carolina) recently featured in Science and
Environmental Science & Technology magazines. In this program, the ferries
are fitted with a flow-through system equipped with sensors that continuously
analyze the water and send information concerning water quality to the program
lab. The collected data provides needed information to scientists and water
quality managers in many agencies, including the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National
Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and even the local fisheries,
tourists and residents living on the water's edge. Information on water quality
status of the Sound and Neuse River Estuary is available on FerryMon's website
The FerryMon program, the first of its kind to be conducted
in the United States, ensures that scientists and others are provided with
real-time water quality information, allowing them to discover how changing
events in our environment affect our coastal water resources.
Something in the air affects some more than others
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Air pollution is a problem, but does it affect some persons
more than others? Air pollution causes about 2 million premature deaths
worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization. Biostatistics
professor Haibo Zhou, PhD
, develops statistical models to explain how our
genetic makeup may influence our response to air pollution.
He is studying the relationships between genetics, ozone air
pollution, and lung disease. He recently found that persons with a particular
genotype (GSTM1) experience much greater airway inflammation when breathing in
ozone polluted air compared to other persons. Zhou's work may eventually lead
to the development of special alerts for people with particular genetic
In addition to his research on lung disease and air
pollution, Zhou also studies the effects of environmental toxins in other areas
of health, such as fertility and pregnancy.