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Environmental engineering Environmental engineering is the application of science and engineering principles to protect and enhance the quality

of the environment—air, water, and land resources—to sustain the health of humans and other living organisms. Environmental engineers work on projects to conserve the environment, reduce waste, and clean up sites that are already polluted. In so doing, they have to deal with a variety of pollutants—chemical, biological, thermal, radioactive, and even mechanical. In addition, they may become involved with public education and government policy-setting. To meet its goals, environmental engineering incorporates elements from a wide range of disciplines, including chemistry, biology, ecology, geology, civil engineering, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and public health. Some consider environmental engineering to include the development of sustainable processes. Development of environmental engineering Ever since people first recognized that their health and well-being are related to the quality of their environment, they have applied thoughtful principles to attempt to improve environmental quality. For instance, the engineers of ancient Rome constructed aqueducts to combat drought and create a healthful water supply for the Roman metropolis. In the fifteenth century, Bavaria created laws restricting the development and degradation of alpine country that constituted the region's water supply. Modern environmental engineering began in the nineteenth century, when cities such as London and Paris instituted laws decreeing the construction of sewer systems for the proper collection and disposal of sewage, and facilities to treat drinking water. Consequently, waterborne diseases such as cholera, which were leading causes of death, dropped in incidence and became rarities. Subsequently, measures to conserve the environment were undertaken. For example, in the early twentieth century, the national park system was created in the United States. With technological development, various actions intended to benefit societies have had unintended, long-term consequences that have reduced the quality of the environment. One example is the widespread application of DDT (dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane) to control agricultural pests in the years following World War II. The agricultural benefits of using DDT were outstanding, as crop yields increased dramatically and world hunger was substantially reduced. In addition, malaria was controlled better than it had ever been. On the other hand, various species were brought to the verge of extinction due to the impact of DDT on their reproductive cycles—a story told vividly in Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. Consequently, the modern environmental movement began, and the field of environmental engineering was pursued with renewed vigor.

Scope of environmental engineering

There are several divisions in the field of environmental engineering. treat. lake. to mitigate the filling-in of a section of wetlands during a proposed road development. fire suppression. Water distribution systems are designed and built to provide adequate water pressure and flow rates to meet various needs. A wastewater treatment train can consist of several systems: A primary clarifier system to remove solid and floating materials. For example. they then develop measures to limit or prevent such impacts. such as domestic use. traffic. they develop systems to store. septic. There are numerous wastewater treatment technologies. water is treated to minimize the risk of diseases and to create a palatable water flavor. for potable water supplies. Environmental impact assessment and mitigation This division is a decision-making tool. and convey water for various uses. and social needs and customs. Wastewater conveyance and treatment Most urban and many rural areas no longer discharge human waste directly to the land through outhouse. In developed countries. or ocean system. Rather. They also consider such factors as noise levels and visual (landscape) impacts. to improve water quality in their surface waters and reduce the risk of waterborne diseases. agricultural capacity. or honey bucket systems. flora and fauna. For example. If adverse impacts are expected. such waste is deposited into water and conveyed from households via sewer systems. Engineers and scientists assess the impacts of a proposed project on environmental conditions. Water supply and treatment Engineers and scientists work to secure water supplies for potable and agricultural use. In addition. habitat. substantial resources are applied to the treatment and detoxification of this waste before it is discharged into a river. water. They apply scientific and engineering principles to evaluate the project's impacts on: the quality of air. and irrigation. They examine a watershed area and evaluate the water balance in terms of such factors as the availability of water for various needs and the seasonal cycles of water in the watershed. they may plan for the creation of wetlands in a nearby location. Engineers and scientists develop systems to carry this waste material away from residential areas and to process it in sewage treatment facilities. . Developing nations are likewise striving to develop such systems.

sulfur oxides. and excess nitrates and phosphates from fertilizers Household wastes. This system. scalpels. and reactive organic gases from vapors. such as various harmful chemicals. This system removes organic material by growing bacteria (activated sludge). This area of work is beginning to overlap with the drive toward energy efficiency and the desire to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from combustion processes. although not always included due to costs. Hazardous wastes include: Industrial wastes. and toxicity. reactivity. corrosivity. consisting of an aeration basin followed by flocculation and sedimentation. preventing their emission into the atmosphere. Hazardous wastes are commonly segregated into solid and liquid wastes. or an activated sludge system and a secondary clarifier. is becoming more prevalent. Brownfield land management and site remediation .A secondary treatment system. precipitators. The secondary clarifier removes activated sludge from the water. such as caustic and toxic chemicals used in manufacturing processes Agricultural wastes. devices known as scrubbers. drugs. batteries. and afterburners are utilized to remove particulates. such as pesticides. radioactive isotopes. such as needles. caustic cleaners. generally exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics: ignitability. pesticides. and mercury (from broken thermometers) Medical wastes. For example. flammable solvents. Scientists develop atmospheric dispersion models to evaluate the concentration of a pollutant at a source. such as paints. Liquid hazardous materials require highly specialized liners and treatment for disposal. glassware. These wastes are often stored in large outdoor manmade ponds and require extensive monitoring to protect groundwater and safeguard area residents. nitrogen oxides. or the impact on air quality and smog production from vehicle and flue-gas stack emissions. Air quality management Engineers design manufacturing and combustion processes to reduce air emissions to acceptable levels. and chemical wastes Wastes from illegal drug manufacture. A tertiary biological nitrogen removal system and a final disinfection process. unused drugs. herbicides. Solid hazardous wastes are generally taken to special landfills that are similar to conventional landfills but involve greater precautions to protect groundwater and workers. Its purpose is to remove nitrogen and phosphorus and to disinfect the water before discharge to a surface water stream or ocean outfall. Hazardous waste management Hazardous waste is defined as waste that poses substantial or potential threats to public health or the environment.

In-situ oxidation . because of the cost of cleaning them to safe standards. sharing. It consists of a computer system for collecting. When the plants reach maturity. the methods of studying contaminated land become more precise. editing.a remedial strategy that uses naturally occurring microbes in soils and groundwater to expedite cleanup. storing.an approach that utilizes deep-rooted plants to soak up metals in soils. Often. these strategies are used in conjunction with one another. GIS technology can be . Many contaminated brownfield sites sit idle and unused for decades." are abandoned. These sites have the potential to be reused once they are cleaned up. Phytoremediation . Innovative remedial techniques employed at distressed brownfield properties include: Bioremediation . Land that is severely contaminated.a process in which vapor from the soil phase is extracted and treated. Additional applications Risk assessment Environmental policy and regulation development Environmental health and safety Natural resource management Noise pollution Geographic Information System The Geographic Information System (GIS) is a useful tool for environmental engineers as well as others. as the metal contaminants have become part of the plants. or simply "brownfields.a strategy that uses oxygen or oxidizing chemicals to enhance a cleanup. or under-used industrial and commercial sites where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by contamination with low levels of hazardous waste or other pollutants. and the brownfield site is prepared for redevelopment. thereby removing contaminants from the soil and groundwater beneath a site. The redevelopment of brownfield sites has become more common in the first decade of the twenty–first century. as developable land grows less available in highly populated areas. Soil vapor extraction . they are removed and disposed of as hazardous wastes. such as "Superfund" sites in the United States. does not fall under the brownfield classification.Examples of brownfields that were redeveloped into productive properties Brownfield lands. and techniques used to clean up environmentally distressed properties become more sophisticated and established. and displaying geographically-referenced information. analyzing. idled.

unique.[4] DDT was subsequently banned for agricultural use worldwide under the Stockholm Convention. a GIS might be used to find wetlands that need protection from pollution. and resulted in a large public outcry that eventually led to DDT being banned in the US in 1972. from near-extinction in the contiguous US.[3] In 1962. Silent Spring by American biologist Rachel Carson was published. the US ban on DDT is cited by scientists as a major factor in the comeback of the bald eagle. the national bird of the United States. development planning.used for many applications. It is a chemical with a long. and resource management. The Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Müller was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1948 "for his discovery of the high efficiency of DDT as a contact poison against several arthropods. The book suggested that DDT and other pesticides may cause cancer and that their agricultural use was a threat to wildlife. including environmental impact assessment. For example. DDT's insecticidal properties were not discovered until 1939. DDT: DDT (from its trivial name. particularly birds. and soon its production and use skyrocketed. DDT was made available for use as an agricultural insecticide. First synthesized in 1874. Its publication was one of the signature events in the birth of the environmental movement. and controversial history."[2] After the war. dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) is one of the most wellknown synthetic pesticides. . The book catalogued the environmental impacts of the indiscriminate spraying of DDT in the US and questioned the logic of releasing large amounts of chemicals into the environment without fully understanding their effects on ecology or human health. but its limited use in disease vector control continues to this day and remains controversial. and it was used with great success in the second half of World War II to control malaria and typhus among civilians and troops.[5][6] Along with the passage of the Endangered Species Act.