Biogeochemistry of Global COntaminants

- Research Group -

We study how biogeochemical processes affect the fate, transport and food-web bioaccumulation of trace metals and organic chemicals in aquatic ecosystems. We develop and apply models at a variety of scales ranging from ecosystems (e.g., the Gulf of Maine, the North Pacific and Arctic Oceans) to global applications to characterize how changes in climate and emissions affect human and ecological health, and the potential impacts of regulatory actions. We measure chemical concentrations and reaction rates in environmental samples (natural waters, sediments and aquatic biota) and humans (hair, blood) to parameterize and evaluate our models.


- Below are a selection of figures from our recent papers -

Environmental Science & Technology Letters

Environmental Science & Technology Letters


Environmental Science & Technology

Global Biogeochemical Cycles

Environmental Science & Technology


Featured Paper

This paper investigated concentrations of six types of PFASs in U.S. drinking water supplies, using data from more than 36,000 water samples collected nationwide by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) between 2013–2015. We developed a spatial model for detection of PFASs in drinking water and proximity and abundance of industrial sites that manufacture or use PFASs, military fire training sites,  civilian airports where fire-fighting foam containing PFASs is used, and wastewater treatment plants.


Harvard Press Release


X.C. Hu, DQ Andrews, A.B. Lindstrom, T.A. Bruton, L.A. Schaider, P. Grandjean, R. Lohmnann, C.C. Carignan, A. Blum, S.A. Balan, C.P. Higgins, E.M. Sunderland. 2016. Detection of Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) in U.S. Drinking Water Linked to Industrial Sites, Military Fire Training Areas and Wastewater Treatment Plants, Environmental Science and Technology Letters. DOI: 10.1021.acs.estlett.6b00260.




Sunderland Lab

Group Administrator: Brenda Mathieu

Address: 29 Oxford Street, Cambridge MA 02138

E-mail:  bmathieu [at]

Phone: +1 (617) 496-5745

Fax: +1 (617) 495-4551