Creating a More Sustainable World

Creating a More Sustainable World

Earth Day is April 22, a day that reminds us of the importance of environmental conservation and sustainability, encouraging people to come together and take action for a healthier planet and a brighter future. The day seeks to raise awareness, inspire change, and foster a deeper connection with nature. This year, the theme is planet versus plastics. 

It’s no surprise that plastic is toxic but unfortunately, it’s found in the air we breathe, the food we eat and all throughout the lives we lead. This year, the Earth Day campaign goal seeks a 60% reduction in the production of plastic by the end of 2024.

Jessup’s Associate Chemistry Professor, Dr. Fungai Mukome has conducted research surrounding plastics, right in our own backyard at the Western Placer Waste Management Authority’s Material Recovery Facility (MRF). Dr. Mukome and students gathered dust samples at several locations throughout the landfill’s facility over a two month period. The samples were analyzed for mass of dust, plastics (using infrared spectroscopy), and pathogens (bacteria). Results showed tiny plastic particles in the air that were approximately three to seven micrometers in size on some occasions. The study resulted in recommendations for MRF employees to ensure they wear masks when working in the facility to avoid inhalation of microplastics and bacteria.  

Dr. Mukome earned his Ph.D. in Environmental Science from Portland State University and his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Zimbabwe. He has expertise in the areas of sustainable agriculture and environmental chemistry and has researched soil amendments such as biochar, organic fertilizers and biosolids with his work resulting in multiple journal publications, several book chapters and a national biochar database.

Dr. Mukome is delighted to be able to combine his passions for the environment and Chemistry, what he refers to as, the central science. “I enjoy being able to bring my God-given passion to a subject typically perceived as challenging and help students discover the beauty and role of chemistry in all things around us,” he said. Dr. Mukome loves the challenge and opportunity to help students realize chemistry is everywhere, thereby providing them with a fresh perspective on the subject.