Biogeochemistry of Global COntaminants

- Research Group -

Our research goal is to better understand how chemicals released by human activity interact with natural ecosystems and affect living systems. A main innovation of our group’s work is to quantitatively analyze the entire exposure pathway for aquatic pollutants to identify key processes that have a large influence on their accumulation in biota. Our research approach combines environmental measurements with statistical and mechanistic simulation models to project chemical levels over space and time. This integrated approach allows us to better understand how global change (both chemical releases and climate change) will affect human and ecological health risks associated with environmental toxicants.


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

Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiolgy (JESEE)

Global Biogeochemical Cycles

Environmental Science & Technology Letters

Environmental Science & Technology Letters

Science of the Total Environment

Environmental Science & Technology

Environmental Research

Environmental Science & Technology


Featured Paper



C.C. Wagner, H.M. Amos, C.P. Thackray, Y. Zhang, E.W. Lundgren, G. Forget, C.L. Friedman, N.E. Selin, R. Lohmann, E.M. Sunderland. A global 3-D ocean model for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs): Benchmark compounds for understanding the impacts of global change on neutral persistent organic pollutants. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 33, 469-481. [full text]



PCBs are legacy pollutants that were banned in the 1970s in most regions globally. Our recent research using the MITgcm and embedded ecology simulation has characterized the budget and lifetimes of PCBs in different ocean regions globally. We investigated how changes in ocean circulation and ice cover in the Arctic over the past 30 years have affected concentrations. We find more volatile compounds with lower molecular weights are most sensitive to recent climate driven changes and are likely to be most persistent in the biosphere.


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