SEGH Articles

Malcolm Brown: at the heart of SEGH

03 July 2016
It was with great sadness that we heard of the passing of Malcolm Brown in April after a long battle with illness. Malcolm worked at the heart of SEGH as the Secretary of the society

 
 
It was with great sadness that we heard of the passing of Malcolm Brown in April after a long battle with illness.  Malcolm was involved with SEGH for the past 30 years and in particular worked at the heart of SEGH as the Secretary of the society for many years, initially in the European Section and latterly as Secretary to the International Committee.  In this role, he was instrumental in maintaining momentum between annual board meetings and conferences in order to take forward key decision making in the development 

of SEGH.  More recently, over the last 12-18 months, Malcolm was instrumental in applying to the UK Charities commission and, although unsuccessful, the experience contributed to his leadership in rewriting the SEGH constitution to ensure its relevance for today and the future.

Malcolm drew on his more than 30 years’ experience at the British Geological Survey (BGS) as a geologist mapping the UK and worked in the early days in the Geochemical Baseline Survey. For a number of years leading up to his retirement, Malcolm headed up the Business Development unit at BGS, working with a variety of academic, regulatory, government, industry and other societies to encourage their use of geoscientific data.  His scientific interests extended beyond “simple “ geology and  geochemistry through to linking environmental geochemistry to health issues, bringing to bear his skills in networking and promoting cross-disciplinary work, which is at the very heart of what SEGH is trying to accomplish.

Malcolm and his wife Anthea have together been at the heart of SEGH for many years, with Anthea acting as membership secretary.  They have both unselfishly, even after retirement, contributed significantly to SEGH through their tireless efforts in the organisation of administration and management activities, as well as support to the European conferences.  Their constant presence has provided continuity through a ‘corporate memory’, quietly steering SEGH through the regular changes of Presidents and Regional Chairs, riding out the sometimes strong differences of opinion and viewpoints with utmost diplomacy, making significant contributions to the defusing of tensions and the production of satisfying outcomes.  Malcolm has been described by many on the SEGH board as a true gentleman, fair, determined and dependable, keen to help others and enthusiastic in bringing people together from different science disciplines and interests, in particular encouraging ‘young blood’ to participate in the organisation of SEGH.


On behalf of the SEGH board, we express our condolences to Anthea and her family, but also our thanks for Malcolm’s contribution to the survival of SEGH over many years in what has been a competitive environment for similar Societies, but also in setting SEGH on a path of modernisation.

Michael Watts, Andrew Hursthouse and Alex Stewart

 
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Latest on-line papers from the SEGH journal: Environmental Geochemistry and Health

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    Abstract

    The objectives were to investigate the potential remedial measures for reverse osmosis (RO) rejected water through constructed wetlands (CWs) with low-cost materials in the media established in chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology (CKDu) prevalent area in Sri Lanka. A pilot-scale surface and subsurface water CWs were established at the Medawachchiya community-based RO water supply unit. Locally available soil, calicut tile and biochar were used in proportions of 81, 16.5 and 2.5% (w/w), respectively, as filter materials in the subsurface. Vetiver grass and Scirpus grossus were selected for subsurface wetland while water lettuce and water hyacinth were chosen for free water surface CWs. Results showed that the CKDu sensitive parameters; total dissolved solids, hardness, total alkalinity and fluoride were reduced considerably (20–85%) and most met desirable levels of stipulated ambient standards. Biochar seemed to play a major role in removing fluoride from the system which may be due to the existing and adsorbed K+, Ca+2, Mg+2, etc. on the biochar surface via chemisorption. The least reduction was observed for alkalinity. This study indicated potential purification of aforesaid ions in water which are considerably present in RO rejection. Therefore, the invented bio-geo constructed wetland can be considered as a sustainable, economical and effective option for reducing high concentrations of CKDu sensitive parameters in RO rejected water before discharging into the inland waters.

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    Abstract

    This study assesses the distribution of goiter in the Kalutara District, Sri Lanka in order to find causative factors for the occurrence of goiter even after the salt iodization. A questionnaire survey was conducted at the household level and at the same time iodine and selenium levels of the water sources were analyzed. Questionnaire survey results indicated the highest numbers of goiter patients in the northern part where the lowest were found in the southern sector which may be due to the presence of acid sulfate soils. Females were more susceptible and it even showed a transmittance between generations. Average iodine concentrations in subsurface water of goiter endemic regions are 28.25 ± 15.47 μg/L whereas non-goiter regions show identical values at 24.74 ± 18.29 μg/L. Surface water exhibited relatively high values at 30.87 ± 16.13 μg/L. Endemic goiter was reported in some isolated patches where iodine and selenium concentrations low, latter was <10 μg/L. The formation of acid sulfate soils in the marshy lands in Kalutara district may lead to transformation of biological available iodine oxidation into volatile iodine by humic substances, at the same time organic matter rich peaty soil may have strong held of iodine and selenium which again induced by low pH and high temperature were suggested as the instrumental factors in the endemic goiter in Kalutara district. Hence, geochemical features such as soil pH, organic matter and thick lateritic cap in the Kalutara goiter endemic area play a role in controlling the available selenium and iodine for food chain through plant uptake and in water.

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    Abstract

    We investigated the extractability of nickel (Ni) in serpentine soils collected from rice paddy fields in eastern Taiwan to evaluate the bioavailability of Ni in the soils as well as for demonstrating the health risks of Ni in rice. Total Ni concentrations in the soils ranged were 70.2–2730 mg/kg (mean, 472 mg/kg), greatly exceeding the natural background content and soil control standard in Taiwan. Available Ni concentration only accounts for <10% of total soil Ni content; 0.1 N HCl-extractable Ni was the more suitable index for Ni bioavailability in the soil to rice than was diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA)-extractable Ni. The accumulation ability of rice roots was much higher than that of its shoots; however, compared with those reported previously, our brown and polished rice samples contained much higher Ni concentrations, within the ranges of 1.50–4.53 and 2.45–5.54 mg/kg, respectively. On the basis of the provisional tolerable Ni intake for adults recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), daily consumption of this rice can result in an excessive Ni intake.