Michelle Scherer, a UI professor of civil and environmental engineering, just netted a three-year $579,729 grant from the National Science Foundation that will help us find out.
Vicki Grassian, a UI professor of chemistry, will co-investigate the project.
Metals like arsenic and mercury are known to “stick” to the mineral surfaces in soils, but work by Scherer and her graduate students reveals something new – the metals may also react with the interiors of mineral particles in the soil.
The grant will fund research on how these new processes will affect movement of these metals in the environment.
For an interesting, but dense report on levels of metals in Iowa’s soils, see the DNR’s complicatedly-named document: “The Iowa State-Wide Trace Element Soil Sampling Project: Design and Implementation.”