Environmental Bioinorganic Chemistry Laboratory
Florida International University



Dr. Yong Cai
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and
Southeast Environmental Research Center
Florida International University
Miami, FL 33199

Tel: (305) 348 6210
Fax: (305) 348 3772


Research Areas

The research in our laboratory spreads in a broad area of environmental chemistry, bioinorganic and analytical chemistry, and biogeochemistry. Listed below are examples of major studies conducted in our laboratory.

  • Biogeochemical cycling of mercury in aquatic environments.

Mercury pollution is a primary issue of concern worldwide. Mercury can be methylated to methylmercury, a highly toxic Hg species, which can be bioaccumulated in fishes and thus pose health risks to human. The transformation and environmental fate of mercury are determined by a number of physical, chemical and biological processes. Our studies focus on the environmental processes and factors, e.g. dissolvd organic matter and organic sulfer, controlling mobility, bioavailability, and thus overall fate of mercury.

  • Environmental fate and transformation of arsenic.

Health problems associated with exposure to arsenic continue to command world attention. Our environmental arsenic research is purported to predict arsenic transport and transformation in arsenic-contaminated sites and ultimately reduce the human health risk associated with exposure to arsenic. We are particularly interested in the role of colloid carriers, both inorganic and organic, in the transport and transformation of arsenic.

  • Metabolism, toxicology, and clinical efficacy of arsenic compounds.

While As is toxic to human health, some As chemicals are beneficial to human health through their application as cancer therapeutic agents. Thiols and thiol-containing proteins play an important role in both toxicological and clinical action of As. The primary purpose of this research is to study the interactions between different arsenic species and various thiols that are present in biological systems and to assess the effectiveness of arsenic in multiple myeloma treatments.

  • Environmental implications of engineered nanomaterials.

The rapidly increasing environmental application of engineered nanomaterials (1-100 nm in at least one dimension) has led to environmental release of nanomaterials into aquatic systems. Accurately evaluating environmental impact and risk of nanomaterials requires understanding not only the fate and ecotoxicology of nanomaterials themselves, but also the effect of nanomaterials on existing toxic contaminants. Our studies are aimed to improve the understanding of the effect that engineered nanomaterials may have on the fate and transformation of toxic metals (e.g. mercury and arsenic) in aquatic environments.


Updated on May 22, 2008 by G. L. Liu
© Environmental Bioinorganic Chemistry Laboratory (EBCL) at FIU.