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The Natural and Industrial Cycling of Indium and Other Emerging Metal Contaminants in the Environment

Speaker: Sarah White, Harvard University
Series: CEE Departmental Seminars
Location: Engineering Quad E219
Date/Time: Thursday, January 10, 2013, 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Abstract:

Indium is an important metal whose production is increasing dramatically due to new uses in the rapidly growing electronics, photovoltaic, and LED industries.  Little is known, however, about the natural or industrial cycling of indium or its environmental behavior.  Industrial emissions of indium are already larger than natural emissions, and are dominated by releases from metal smelting and coal burning, while releases from the semiconductor and electronics industries are small at present.  This scenario may change with the rapid growth of indium use in the electronics and semiconductor industries.  In this talk, I will give an overview of what is known about natural indium cycling and its industrial releases, and present the results of my own studies of the atmospheric cycling of indium in the northeastern United States and its historical deposition.  Additionally, I will give an overview of my continuing postdoctoral research to assess the cycling of indium and other emerging metal contaminants (gallium, germanium, and tellurium) in mining and smelting processes, including an investigation of human exposure and subsequent body burdens at an abandoned mining site in northeastern Oklahoma.