| February 2014
Dr Jane Entwistle is Head of Department of Geography at Northumbria University and is organising the 2014 SEGH conference. Here she gives some insight into the host organisation and city. continue reading...
SEGH was established in 1971 to provide a forum for scientists from various disciplines to work together in understanding the interaction between the geochemical environment and the health of plants, animals, and humans. We recognise the importance of interdisciplinary research. SEGH members represent expertise in a diverse range of scientific fields, such as biology, engineering, geology, hydrology, epidemiology, chemistry, medicine, nutrition, and toxicology.
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| February 2014
In early January Dr Michael Watts visited Zimbabwe and Zambia with a colleague from the University of Nottingham. They were funded from a Royal Society-DFID grant to foster science networks in Africa and to help strengthen scientific capacity. Here Michael tells us about his trip continue reading...
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Latest on-line papers from the SEGH journal: Environmental Geochemistry and Health
Over the past decade, ambient air particulate matter (PM) has been clearly associated with adverse health effects. In Brazil, small and poor communities are exposed to indoor dust derived from both natural sources, identified as blowing soil dust, and anthropogenic particles from mining activities. This study investigates the physicochemical and mineralogical composition of indoor PM10 dust samples collected in Minas Gerais, Brazil, and evaluates its cytotoxicity and inflammatory potential. The mean PM10 mass concentration was 206 μg/m3. The high dust concentration in the interior of the residences is strongly related to blowing soil dust. The chemical and mineralogical compositions were determined by ICP-OES and XRD, and the most prominent minerals were clays, Fe-oxide, quartz, feldspars, Al(hydr)oxides, zeolites, and anatase, containing the transition metals Fe, Cr, V, Ni, Cu, Zn, Ti, and Mn as well as the metalloid As. The indoor dust samples presented a low water solubility of about 6 %. In vitro experiments were carried out with human lung alveolar carcinoma cells (A549) to study the toxicological effects. The influence of the PM10 dust samples on cell viability, intracellular formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and release of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-8 was analysed. The indoor dust showed little effects on alamarBlue reduction indicating unaltered mitochondrial activity. However, significant cell membrane damage, ROS production, and IL-8 release were detected in dependence of dose and time. This study will support the implementation of mitigation actions in the investigated area in Brazil.
The history of uranium mining in Portugal during almost one century has followed international demand peaks of both radium and uranium, which in turn were driven by medical, military, and civil applications. Nowadays, following price drop in the 1980s, mining activities decreased and ceased in 2001. The current challenge is to deal with environmental legacies left by old uranium mines, mainly located in Viseu and Guarda districts. In 2001, based on several radiological surveys carried out, the Portuguese government assumed the remediation costs of abandoned mine areas for environmental safety and public health protection. Detailed environmental and public health risk assessments were performed under the scope of studies both requested by the government and by funded research projects. It was found that the existing risks, due to radiological and chemical exposures to metals and radionuclide’s, were particularly high at the old milling facilities and mines where in situ and heap leaching of low-grade ore occurred. The different studies, involving both humans and non-human species from different trophic levels, demonstrated the existence of effects at different levels of biological organization (molecular, cellular, tissues, individuals, and populations) and on ecosystem services. To mitigate the risks, the environmental rehabilitation works at the Urgeiriça mine complex are almost complete, while at Cunha Baixa mine, they are presently in progress. These works and environmental improvements achieved and expected are described herein.