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Staff are involved in a number of research areas. There are currently 50 postgraduates students in the department.

Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology

Industrial and anthropogenic activities are responsible for the elevated levels of pollutants in the environment. These pollutants, whether organic or inorganic, have been shown to be a threat to human health and the ecosystem.

Researchers in the department are focusing on:

  • assessing the level of organic and inorganic pollutants in soil, plants and water in the Western Cape
  • investigating technologies for the remediation of water resources.


Radiochemistry is important in the production of radionuclides and radiopharmaceuticals. Radiochemistry includes:

  • the separation of a radionuclide, produced by an accelerator or by a nuclear reactor, from the target material and other unwanted radionuclides and
  • the preparation and the chemical quality control of radiopharmaceuticals for diagnostic studies at nuclear medicine clinics and departments of hospitals as well as for cancer therapy at oncology centres.

Ion exchange separations

Ion exchange separations are used in many fields, such waste management and the removal of toxic materials in industry, water purification and in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals. Ion exchange separations include:

  • the determination of distribution for elements on a cation or anion or a chelating ion exchange resins in various media, such as an acid or an acid mixture containing an organic solvent, etc
  • elution curve experiments with some elements, using a resin column, to determine the optimum conditions for separations of these elements by column ion exchange chromatography
  • experiments to separate elements from each other or from a group of elements
  • the development and preparation of new ion exchangers, such as nanoparticles.