Toxic molecules in soils
In the past, chlorinated organic chemicals have been used in industrial processes or by farmers in pesticides. Although many are now banned from use, they remain within polluted soils and groundwater. It is difficult to separate these toxic molecules from the ground they contaminate, but, by using grid computing, the team has a better understanding of the forces governing how toxins interact with soils.
For example, dioxin molecules bind strongly to clay surfaces. But water competes with dioxins to bind to clay surfaces. The binding ability of a dioxin molecule is a balance between the binding strength of the dioxin to the clay surface, the water to the clay surface, and the dioxin to the water.
Understanding how pollutant molecules are held within soils at a molecular level, will eventually help develop effective land remediation strategies.