Katherine T. Alben

Katherine T. Alben, PhD

Chemistry of drinking water; natural and anthropogenic organic compounds in aquatic organisms, rivers, lakes and wetlands.

The World Within Reach
Katherine T. Alben, PhD
Assistant Professor

School of Public Health
Department: Environmental Health Sciences

Aquatic Chemistry, NYSDOH, Wadsworth Center



PhD, Physical Chemistry, Yale University (1976)
Postdoctoral training: Washington State Department of Health (1976)
Postdoctoral training: Yale University, Engineering and Applied Science (1977)

Wadsworth Center Senior Staff Page

Research Interests

Chemical analysis is essential in controlling the quality of drinking water, from the source, through treatment and distribution, to the consumer. Research is conducted on physical-chemical processes which mediate human exposure to organic contaminants in drinking water. Instrumental (GC, MS, HPLC, EDXRF) and computational methods of analysis are developed to evaluate the performance of bench-, pilot-, and full-scale systems for drinking water treatment and distribution. Mass transfer of organic compounds between water and surfaces of porous or solid media (GAC, resins, sediments, coatings) is an area of major interest to understand limitations imposed by environmental conditions, as well as molecular properties.

Pilot-scale experiments have been conducted to investigate GAC adsorption of organic contaminants from drinking water, with partial funding from the American Water Works Association Research Foundation and the Hudson River Foundation. Contaminants that have been studied in these projects include synthetic organics (solvents; pesticides and herbicides; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), disinfection byproducts (trihalomethanes; haloacetic acids; aldehydes; TOX) and their natural-product precursors. Problems of current concern include: nonequilibrium sorption of hydrophobic organic contaminants, such as atrazine; oxidation-reduction of organic compounds on surfaces; improved process-control of disinfection byproducts.