Topical Content of BCES Specialty Exams

Air Resources

This exam focuses on air pollution in the ambient atmosphere and indoors. In addition to environmental and health effects of air pollutants, the exam covers their sources, transport and behavior/transformations, basic physical and chemical characteristics of the atmosphere, federal legislation on air pollution, air quality analytical methods, and control technologies.

Environmental Biology

This exam focuses on important principles of the biology and ecology of ecosystems and their stressors, including toxic substances; ecosystem remediation and restoration; population dynamics; organismal biology, including endangered species; and natural resources. Emphasis is on aquatic systems, but not to the exclusion of terrestrial issues. The exam also covers basic biological issues related to important federal regulations, sustainability, and “green” principles in restoration, urban habitats and remediation.

Environmental Chemistry

This exam focuses on the chemical behavior of major environmental reservoirs, including surface and ground waters, soils, and the atmosphere, and the behavior of pollutants in these systems. The principles of physical, inorganic, and organic chemistry needed to understand chemical processes and analytical methods used to measure chemicals and chemical processes in these systems also are covered, along with relevant aspects of environmental legislation.

Environmental Microbiology

This exam focuses on the fundamental principles of microbial growth and metabolism and their applications to environmental processes in natural and human-impacted environments, including natural waters, wastewater, and soils. The exam includes such topics as microbially caused diseases, measurements (detection methods), epidemiology, microbial community structure and federal regulations (e.g., water quality standards) regarding microorganisms in the environment.

Environmental Toxicology

This exam focuses on the principles and methods of the integrated science of environmental toxicology. It covers the two major areas of hazard evaluation–harmful effects of chemical, biological and physical agents on humans, wildlife, and other fauna and flora, and exposure assessment, including sources, transport, behavior and fate of toxic substances in the environment. Relevant laws and regulations related to the control and management of toxic materials also are covered.

Groundwater and the Subsurface Environment

This exam is focused on the understanding of groundwater under both natural and contaminated conditions. Fundamental principles, such as groundwater occurrence, hydraulics, and geochemistry, are coupled with issues related to contamination, such as sampling, non-aqueous phase liquids, solute transport, and principles of bioremediation.

Hazardous Waste Management and Site Remediation

This exam focuses on the important principles of hazardous waste management and site remediation. Emphases include: chemical and physical properties of contaminants, fate and transport of contaminants in the environment, design engineering and groundwater management associated with site investigation/remediation strategies, management and treatment technologies associated with remediation activities, and health and safety considerations. The complete list of the ten exam topics, distribution emphases in the exam, and sample questions can be found in Section 9, How to Prepare for the Examinations for Environmental Engineering and Science Specialty Certification, latest edition available from the Academy.

Surface Water Resources

This exam covers drinking water and wastewater treatment; source and receiving water quality; sources and effects of pollution from stormwater; and the legal/regulatory framework for water resources and watershed management. In addition to treatment technologies for water and wastewater, the exam includes sustainable design concepts and relevant aspects of the chemistry, biology, microbiology, fate and transport, and sampling and measurement methods of pollutants in water and wastewater.

Sustainability Science

This exam tests the applicant’s understanding of the science underlying basic concepts of environmental sustainability. The exam also includes some economic and social aspects of sustainability.

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