SEGH Articles

The SEGH 2016 conference was a great success!!

26 January 2017
SEGH Brussels
110 delegates from 22 countries attended the meeting. Amongst them, 34 students actively participated, whom 5 received an EAG grant (covering the registration fee). 114 abstracts were reviewed by the scientific committee and accepted after potential corrections. The scientific programme was intense, including 59 talks and 55 posters. 
Four keynote speakers were invited: Prof. Reto Gieré from University of Pennsylvania (USA) , Prof. Montserrat Filella from Université de Genève (Switzerland), Prof. Elijah Petersen from NIST (USA), Prof. Vincent Balter from Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon (France) covering a large range of subjects like : Assessment of environmental and health impacts of airborne particulate matter;Nanoparticle reference materials; Criticity of trace elements in the current and future environments; Cancer-driven (Cu, Zn) isotopic fractionation.
A field-trip organized in the Liège's area ended the conference: the visit of the peat bogs from the Hautes-Fagnes - precious archives of the atmospheric deposits through the Holocene, was followed by the visit of the slag heaps surrounding Liège, which record a strong fingerprint of the metallurgical industries but currently develop a natural new ecosystem with specific metal-tolerant plants.
Three awards were distributed at the end of the event to: 
- Sebastiaan van de Velde (SEGH Best Oral)
- Alice Jarosikova (SEGH Best Poster)
- T. Gabriel Enge (Malcolm Brown Award for outstanding young scientist)
See the SEGH website for more details and articles on the works performed by the SEGH 2016 young scientist medalists.
The city of Brussels was extremely welcoming with a sunny weather and the conference venue was a convivial open space where delegates have deeply appreciated to lunch, discover Belgian beers, and overall initiate lively scientific discussions. 
In summary, the SEGH 2016 conference in Brussels has reached its initial objectives and even exceeded them; this annual conference provided a real scientific platform of high-quality for exchanges between complementary environment and health related disciplines: geochemistry, ecotoxicology, earth sciences, medicine, epidemiology, laboratory technologies and methodologies.
This would not have been possible without the organisation team from ULB (Université Libre de Bruxelles) and the precious contributions from all the participants. Thank you very much to all delegates!
Looking forward to seeing you in China in 2017.
Nadine Mattielli.
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Latest on-line papers from the SEGH journal: Environmental Geochemistry and Health

  • Fate and partitioning of heavy metals in soils from landfill sites in Cape Town, South Africa: a health risk approach to data interpretation 2019-06-14


    The fate and persistence of trace metals in soils and sludge from landfill sites are crucial in determining the hazard posed by landfill, techniques for their restoration and potential reuse purposes of landfill sites after closure and restoration. A modified European Community Bureau of Reference’s (BCR) sequential extraction procedure was applied for partitioning and evaluating the mobility and persistence of trace metals (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, Sb, Se, Zn) in soils from three landfill sites and sludge sample from Cape Town, South Africa. Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy was used to analyze BCR extracts. The mobility sequence based on the BCR mobile fraction showed that Cu (74–87%), Pb (65–80%), Zn (59–82%) and Cd (55–66%) constituted the mobile metals in the soils from the three sites. The mobility of Cu, Zn and Ni (> 95%) was particularly high in the sludge sample, which showed significant enrichment compared to the soil samples. Geo-accumulation index (Igeo) and risk assessment code were used to further assess the environmental risk of the metals in the soils. Exposure to the soils and sludge did not pose any non-cancer risks to adult and children as the hazard quotient and hazard index values were all below the safe level of 1. The cancer risks from Cd, Cr and Ni require that remedial action be considered during closure and restoration of the landfill sites.

  • An investigation into the use of < 38 µm fraction as a proxy for < 10 µm road dust particles 2019-06-13


    It is well documented that a large portion of urban particulate matters is derived from road dust. Isolating particles of RD which are small enough to be inhaled, however, is a difficult process. In this study, it is shown for the first time that the < 38 µm fraction of road dust particles can be used as a proxy for road dust particles < 10 µm in bioaccessibility studies. This study probed similarities between the < 10 and < 38µm fractions of urban road dust to show that the larger of the two can be used for analysis for which larger sample masses are required, as is the case with in vitro analysis. Road dust, initially segregated to size < 38 µm using sieves, was again size segregated to < 10 µm using water deposition. Both the original < 38 µm and the separated < 10 µm fractions were then subject to single particle analysis by SEM–EDX and bulk analysis by ICP-OES for its elemental composition. Dissolution tests in artificial lysosomal fluid, representative of lung fluid, were carried out on both samples to determine % bioaccessibility of selected potentially harmful elements and thus probe similarities/differences in in vitro behaviour between the two fractions. The separation technique achieved 94.3% of particles < 10 µm in terms of number of particles (the original sample contained 90.4% as determined by SEM–EDX). Acid-soluble metal concentration results indicated differences between the samples. However, when manipulated to negate the input of Si, SEM–EDX data showed general similarities in metal concentrations. Dissolution testing results indicated similar behaviour between the two samples in a simulated biological fluid.

  • Degradation of petroleum hydrocarbons in unsaturated soil and effects on subsequent biodegradation by potassium permanganate 2019-06-13


    To date, the oxidation of petroleum hydrocarbons using permanganate has been investigated rarely. Only a few studies on the remediation of unsaturated soil using permanganate can be found in the literature. This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first study conducted using permanganate pretreatment to degrade petroleum hydrocarbons in unsaturated soil in combination with subsequent bioaugmentation. The pretreatment of diesel-contaminated unsaturated soil with 0.5-pore-volume (5%) potassium permanganate (PP) by solution pouring and foam spraying (with a surfactant) achieved the total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) removal efficiencies of 37% and 72.1%, respectively. The PP foam, when coupled with bioaugmentation foam, further degraded the TPH to a final concentration of 438 mg/kg (92.1% total reduction). The experiment was conducted without soil mixing or disturbance. The relatively high TPH removal efficiency achieved by the PP–bioaugmentation serial foam application may be attributed to an increase in soil pH caused by the PP and effective infiltration of the remediation agent by foaming. The applied PP foam increased the pH of the acidic soil, thus enhancing microbial activity. The first-order biodegradation rate after PP oxidation was calculated to be 0.068 d−1. Furthermore, 94% of the group of relatively persistent hydrocarbons (C18–C22) was removed by PP–bioaugmentation, as verified by chromatogram peaks. Some physicochemical parameters related to contaminant removal efficiency were also evaluated. The results reveal that PP can degrade soil TPH and significantly enhance the biodegradation rate in unsaturated diesel-contaminated soil when combined with bioaugmentation foam.