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 -

Global Biogeochemical Cycles

Environmental Science & Technology

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics

Environmental Science & Technology

Environmental Science & Technology Letters

Environmental Science & Technology

Environmental Science & Technology


Featured Paper

This paper shows a rapid decline in the highly fluorinated atmospheric precursor (FOSA) concentrations in North Atlantic Pilot Whales following the phase-out in chemical production by 3M in North America around 2002.  A model based on simple partitioning between air, water and biota can explain observed declines in pilot whale tissue.  This result emphasizes the importance of understudied precursor compounds for biological exposures to poly and perfluoroalkyl substances.

C. Dassuncao, X Hu, X. Zhang, R. Bossi, M. Dam, B. Mikkelsen, E.M. Sunderland. 2017. Temporal shifts in poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in North Atlantic pilot whale indicate large contribution of atmospheric precursors. Environmental Science and Technology. 51(8): 4512-4521.




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