School of Chemistry & Physics

Prof Brenda Moodley

Associate Professor in Analytical and Applied Chemistry

Professor Moodley’s research interests lie in analytical environmental chemistry where she is involved in analyzing for organic pollutants in environmental matrices. Her research also focuses on developing synthetic and bioadsorbents for the removal of organic pollutants from wastewater. She holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and has graduated over 10 Masters and PhD students and published over 50 papers in this field. Due to her expertise she was approached by 50/50 to carry out analysis of environmental samples close to a waste treatment site in Hillcrest which was emitting noxious odours. Professor Moodley is a well versed lecturer with over 15 years of experience in teaching and research

Research interests

Analytical Chemistry and Material Science, with a focus on:

  • Investigation into organic pollutants present in environmental matrices such as sediment, soil and water.
  • Organic pollutants such as pesticides (mirex, endrin, DDT and its metabolites, etc), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), as well as emerging contaminants such as illicit drugs, pharmaceuticals (including their metabolites) and personal care products (PPCPs) are some of the types of pollutants we have investigated.
  • Developing adsorbent materials (both synthetic and from agrowaste) for the remediation of these pollutants.
  • Use of chromatography and mass spectrometry for the analysis of organic pollutants
  • Nanotechnology Centre

Research profiles

Current projects

Prof Moodley’s research group investigates organic pollutants present in environmental matrices such as sediment, soil and water. Organic pollutants such as pesticides (mirex, endrin, DDT and its metabolites, etc), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), as well as emerging contaminants such as illicit drugs, pharmaceuticals (including their metabolites) and personal care products (PPCPs) are some of the types of pollutants that have been investigated.

Currently they are working on analysing for selected pharmaceuticals (antibiotics, hypertension, diabetes, endocrine disruptors, etc) in a wastewater treatment plant in Pietermaritzburg. This project started during the COVID-19 pandemic and samples were collected during the 4th and 5th waves of the pandemic to determine any correlations between the concentrations of the pharmaceuticals found in the effluent and the number of COVID-19 cases.

The group is about to being a project looking at different types of endocrine disruptors in river samples in KZN. Endocrine disruptors are known to have detrimental effects on aquatic species affecting particularly the reproductive organs, hence there is a need to monitor the concentrations of endocrine disruptors in the environment. They are also looking at how organic pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and selected pharmaceuticals adsorb to microplastics which then are transported to other areas. These microplastics may also be ingested by aquatic species which may then transfer the organic pollutants to them. The kinetics and mechanism of adsorption is focused on in these studies.

Associations/ Affiliations

  • Member of SETAC and SACI
  • Part of UKZN’s Nanotechnology Platform

Collaborators

  • Prof G Birungi (Mbarara University of Technology)
  • Prof P Ndungu (UJ)
  • Dr V Tembu (TUT)
  • Industrial collaborators: Umgeni Water, Eskom

Media

Sampling along the Umgeni River

Analytical Environmental Research Group at year-end event.