Cai Lab for Environmental Bioinorganic Chemistry

The Cai Laboratory for Environmental Bioinorganic Chemistry is a research group directed by Dr. Yong Cai within the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and Institute of Environment at Florida International University (FIU). Our work revolves around environmental chemistry, analytical chemistry, biogeochemistry, and environmental health of important and emerging contaminants, particularly addressing many interrelated, molecular-level questions pertinent to occurrence and analysis, environmental fate and processes, and metabolism and environmental health of toxic metals and metalloids, such as mercury (Hg) and arsenic (As).

Our laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation which forms the Bioinorganic and Environmental Analytical Facility for analysis of total Hg, methyl Hg, and 20-plus metals in environmental and biological samples.

The lab focuses on three main research areas:

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. We employ a holistic approach to study biogeochemistry of mercury, a global pollutant of worldwide health concern, by investigating the ecosystem-scale mercury cycling and meanwhile focusing on specific transformation and transport processes of mercury. By conducting in-depth studies on critical environmental processes of mercury that currently are of high uncertainty during mercury cycling, we obtain more accurate information on these processes and in turn advance the understanding of the overall biogeochemical cycling of mercury.