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

  • Geophagy among East African Chimpanzees: consumed soils provide protection from plant secondary compounds and bioavailable iron 2019-12-01

    Abstract

    Geophagy, the intentional consumption of earth materials, has been recorded in humans and other animals. It has been hypothesized that geophagy is an adaptive behavior, and that clay minerals commonly found in eaten soil can provide protection from toxins and/or supplement micronutrients. To test these hypotheses, we monitored chimpanzee geophagy using camera traps in four permanent sites at the Budongo Forest Reserve, Uganda, from October 2015–October 2016. We also collected plants, and soil chimpanzees were observed eating. We analyzed 10 plant and 45 soil samples to characterize geophagic behavior and geophagic soil and determine (1) whether micronutrients are available from the soil under physiological conditions and if iron is bioavailable, (2) the concentration of phenolic compounds in plants, and (3) if consumed soils are able to adsorb these phenolics. Chimpanzees ate soil and drank clay-infused water containing 1:1 and 2:1 clay minerals and > 30% sand. Under physiological conditions, the soils released calcium, iron, and magnesium. In vitro Caco-2 experiments found that five times more iron was bioavailable from three of four soil samples found at the base of trees. Plant samples contained approximately 60 μg/mg gallic acid equivalent. Soil from one site contained 10 times more 2:1 clay minerals, which were better at removing phenolics present in their diet. We suggest that geophagy may provide bioavailable iron and protection from phenolics, which have increased in plants over the last 20 years. In summary, geophagy within the Sonso community is multifunctional and may be an important self-medicative behavior.

  • Accumulation of uranium and heavy metals in the soil–plant system in Xiazhuang uranium ore field, Guangdong Province, China 2019-12-01

    Abstract

    Plants that have grown for many years in the special environmental conditions prevailing in mining areas are naturally screened and show strong capacity to adapt to their environment. The present study investigated the enrichment characteristics of U and other heavy metals (As, Cu, Pb, Mn, Mo, Zn, Cd, Co, and Ni) in the soil–plant system in Xiazhuang uranium mine. Four dominant plants (Castanopsis carlesii, Rhus chinensis, Liriodendron chinense, and Sapium discolor) and soil samples were collected from the mined areas, unmined areas, and background areas away from the ore field. U, As, Cu, Pb, Mn, Mo, Zn, Cd, Co, and Ni concentrations were analyzed by ICP-MS. The results demonstrate that (1) The highest concentrations of U (4.1–206.9 mg/kg) and Pb (43.3–126.0 mg/kg) with the geoaccumulation index (Igeo) greater than 1 show that they are the main soil pollutants in the research area. (2) The biological accumulation coefficient (LBAC) values for Cd, Mn, and Cu are greater than zero in S. discolor, L. chinense, and C. carlesii and these three plants indicate that they can be used for remediation of the soil in the ore field. (3) R. chinensis inhibits the accumulation of heavy metals and shows sensitive pigment responses to the accumulation of U in the leaves. L. chinense has the strongest enrichment effect on heavy metals but exhibits weak biochemical responses under U stress. C. carlesii demonstrates strong adaptation to U and can maintain healthy pigment characteristics in case of high U enrichment. (4) S. discolor, L. chinense, C. carlesii and R. chinensis have strong tolerance to U toxicity and different biochemical responses.

  • Distribution, sources and health risk assessment of contaminations in water of urban park: A case study in Northeast China 2019-12-01

    Abstract

    This case study was performed to determine whether the pollutants in water of urban park could bring health risk to human engaging in water-related activities such as swimming and provide evidence demonstrating the critical need for strengthened recreational water resources management of urban park. TN, NH4+-N, TP, Cu, Mn, Zn, Se, Pb, As, Cd and Cr(VI) contents were determined to describe the spatial distribution of contaminations; sources apportionment with the method of correlation analysis, factor analysis and cluster analysis were followed by health risk assessment for swimmers of different age groups. The results reveal that element contents in all sites do not exceed Chinese standard for swimming area and European Commission standard for surface water; all detected elements except Cr(VI) have a tendency to accumulate in the location of lake crossing bridge; Mn and Zn are considered to have the same pollution source including geogenic and anthropogenic sources by multivariable analysis. Carcinogenic risks of different age groups descend in the same order with non-carcinogenic risks. Among all elements, Zn and Mn contribute the lowest non-carcinogenic risk (5.1940E-06) and the highest non-carcinogenic risk (7.9921E-04) through skin contact pathway, respectively. The total average personal risk for swimmers in swimming area is 1.9693E-03, and this site is not suitable for swimming. Overall, it is possible that swimmers are exposed to risk via the dermal route when carrying out water-related activities, it is recommended that necessary precautions and management should be taken in other similar locations around the world.