TITLE: “ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH IMPACT OF LEGACY URANIUM MINING IN PORTUGAL”
Invited Speaker: Fernando P. Carvalho, PhD - Instituto Tecnológico e Nuclear,Instituto Superior Técnico-Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, Estrada Nacional 10, 2686-953 Sacavém, Portugal
Abstract: Radioactive ores were extracted in Portugal for the production of radium and uranium from 1908 till 2001. During this period, sixty mines were operated mainly in the centre north region of the country, and extracted ores transported and processed in a few places in the region. With the drop of uranium prices in international markets occurred during the 90s, the uranium mining in Portugal ceased and the uranium mining company closed operations, such as in all western European countries. With the end of uranium mining industry in Portugal, concerns arose about the environmental impact of abandoned uranium mining and milling waste which triggered a global assessment of the environmental contamination and human health risk for populations living in the uranium region. The research carried out in 2003-2007 encompassed a range of selected mining and milling sites, such as Urgeiriça. The results allowed for endorsing environmental remediation actions namely to confine the more radioactive milling waste and to treat radioactive and acid mine drainage in order to abate environmental contamination and reduce the risk of human exposure to uranium waste radioactivity. Environmental remediation work and waste management measures implemented decreased the discharge of radioactive materials into the environment and reduced ambient radioactivity in several areas and thus the risk of radiological exposure to the population. Due to the long half-life of radionuclides present in uranium mining and milling waste, these former uranium sites including the areas that were remediated, require stewardship and radiological surveillance for some time. The monitoring of radioactivity in the environment in these former uranium mining regions, in agreement with the EURATOM Treaty is carried out annually by the Nuclear and Technological Institute (ITN) and results delivered to the EU and to the public. Monitoring results show that the risk of radiation exposure of members of the public was abated and that actual radiation doses in most monitored sites are in line with the current and restrictive radiation dose limits. This is an important achievement and simultaneously, a remarkable journey. In the course of one century of worldwide uranium ore mining and milling industry, in Europe and Portugal we progressed from an environment damaging extractive industry, to the discovery of the harmful effects of radioactive elements, to the set up of radiation protection regulations and, finally, to the control of uranium mining legacy and effective radiation protection of the public.
Short Curriculum Vitae: Biologist and Chemist, is Principal Investigator of the Nuclear and Technological Institute (ITN)/Instituto Superior Técnico - Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, Sacavém, Portugal. He is in charge of the environmental radioactivity monitoring programme in the regions of former uranium mining of Portugal, and has extensive work in the field of environmental radioactivity and radiation protection. He is a former staff member of the International Atomic Energy Agency and Head of the Marine Environmental Studies Laboratory of the IAEA/UNEP/UNESCO in the Principality of Monaco. He is also an IAEA consultant for environmental radioactivity matters and monitoring programmes.
TITLE: “GEOCHEMICAL REACTIVITY AND RISK ASSESSMENT: FROM SCIENTIFIC DATA TO POLICY APPLICATIONS”
Invited Speaker: Dr. Paul Römkens, Alterra – Wageningen UR, Alterra, the Netherlands
Abstract:Risks of contaminants in soils are only marginally related to total levels in soil. Most risk assessment tools used at present, are based on the total level. This often leads to erroneous assessment of, for example, exposure to people (in case of urban gardens) or quality of ground- and drinking water. Especially for policy making the acceptance of the concept of availability in risk assessment is rather difficult. This is partly due to the assumed greater need for knowledge but also the lack of data on a regional or national scale that offers insight in background levels of both total and available levels of contaminants in soil. To bridge the gap between geochemical data and knowledge on one hand and the desire to improve risk assessment and soil policy on the other both local and regional data are needed that describe the reactivity of contaminants. Recently the Dutch Geochemical Atlas was released, a compilation of nationwide data on total, reactive and available levels of contaminants (metals) in soils. Commonly such books contain maps of various scale levels most often representing total levels of an array of elements. Although useful for geochemists, this offers limited information for policy makers who are in need of more realistic assessments of actual risks of contaminants in, for example urban areas. In densely populated areas like the Netherlands, the soil quality is affected by a myriad of activities ranging from industrial emissions, traffic, waste management and historical sources of pollution. Examples of the latter include the use of city waste in near urban areas to improve soil quality and to keep the land sufficiently dry. In such soils, elevated levels of lead or copper occur which may or may not pose a risk for grazing cattle depending on the actual uptake by crops. In, or near urban areas in the Netherlands more and more allotments are being created that allow people to grow their own vegetables and fruit. Often, however such soils are not clean and contain elevated levels of lead, mercury, copper and other elements. Such examples show that both a more accurate assessment of the actual availability of contaminants in soil as well as an improved insight in the regional distribution is desirable in order to improve national, regional or local soil policy.
The Geochemical Atlas of the Netherlands aims to provide both insight in the variability of a large array of metals and metalloids in the top- and subsoil of major Dutch soil types and give insight in the actual availability of such elements. In this presentation and an adjacent poster, examples of the Atlas and its applications will be shown.
Short Curriculum Vitae: Dr. Paul Römkens obtained a PhD degree in soil chemistry at the University of Groningen in 1998. He is currently a Senior Research Scientist at the Department of Soil Science ALTERRA, Wageningen UR. His research interests include the derivation of soil quality standards in relation to risks of heavy metals in soils, food safety, risk assessment of heavy metal contaminated soils, active soil management, scenario analysis of heavy metals in relation to land use, and phytoremediation.
TITLE: “PETROLEUM CONTAMINATION ASSESSMENT AND BIO-REMEDIATION PROCESSES"
Invited Speaker: Prof. Dr. Joan Albaiges (CID-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain)
Abstract: Marine pollution by oil is a well known problem that has become particularly evident at the time of massive accidental spills, such as the Prestige or, more recently, the BP platform in the Gulf of Mexico. However, operational discharges in coastal areas or offshore (e.g. urban effluents or oil tank washings) are more widespread and become confused with the accidental spills, when the acute phase is gone.
The presentation will show the approach followed in Europe to establish a surveillance system of oil spills, from remote sensing to the collection of samples and their final identification. Efficient and unambiguous analytical methods for the characterization of these spillages are needed from the standpoint of the enforcement of the pollution control laws, designed to protect the public health and the environment. In this respect, we will describe the methodology adopted and currently assessed by the Oil Spill Identification Network of Experts (OSINET), which will be illustrated by the results of several real cases.
Sampling is the first step in obtaining information about the spill. Sampling at sea is carried out with special devices for collecting surface oil, patches, slicks or sheens. Sampling of tanks on the vessels must be comprehensive and representative.
The identification of the samples is carried out by GC-MS, considering different sectors of the chromatographic profile and the hydrocarbon families associated with them. These include n-alkanes, acyclic isoprenoids, sesquiterpenes, steranes, triterpanes and alkyl aromatics. To this end, a number of source and weathering indices, based on the determination of specific compounds (molecular markers) have been proposed for comparison of samples, and multivariate statistical methods are applied to improve the diagnostic capability of this methodology. Obviously, the specific distributions of hydrocarbon families need to be properly used for the characterization of the spills. Particularly, the effects of the processes of evaporation, dissolution, photooxidation and biodegradation on the spilled samples need to be taken into account for the adequate interpretation of the results.
This methodology will be illustrated with examples of accidental and operational discharges. Among the former we refer to a spill in the Strait of Gibraltar where the aging of the samples collected at sea was a factor to be taken into account when making comparisons with reference samples.
Among the operational discharges, the most common are those related to washing tanks or bilges. In this case, the identification of such residues is particularly difficult because its composition, a mixture of products used in a vessel (fuel oils and lubricating oils), is very variable. The difficulties are even more important when spills occur in ports, where potential sources are numerous. In this case, we present two cases of spills occurred in fishing ports, where the cause of the spill among four potential sources should identified.
Short Curriculum Vitae: Prof. Joan Albaiges is Research Professor of the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) where he established in 1979 the Department of Environmental Chemistry, where pioneering and internationally well known research activities on environmental organic geochemistry started to develop. He has contributed over 250 refereed articles to scientific journals, being Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry, vice-president of the International Association of Environmental Analytical Chemistry (IAEAC) and member of several Academies. In 2002 he was appointed vice-chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee on the Prestige accident; in 2004, coordinator of the European Network on Accidental Marine Pollution (AMPERA) and, since 2010, of the ERA-Net "Towards integrated European marine research strategy and programs" (SEAS-ERA).
TITLE: “REMEDIATION OF MUNICIPAL WASTE WATERS BY ARTIFICIAL WETLANDS”
Invited Speaker: Prof. Dr. J.M. Bayona, CID-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain
Abstract: Constructed wetlands (CWs) constitute a wastewater treatment alternative to small communities due to their low operational cost, reduced energy consumption, and almost no sewage sludge production. Although much information is available about conventional water quality parameters (e.g. BOD5 and TSS) in CWs, few data regarding pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) are currently available.
The objective of this work was to evaluate the elimination of selected PPCPs in CWs of different configurations. In this regard, whereas in the horizontal flow (HF) CWs the organic matter removal is mostly by anaerobic pathways (i.e. denitrification, sulphate reduction and methanogenesis), in vertical flow (VF) CWs and surface flow (SF) CWs the aerobic environment prevails. These different environments, according to the CW configuration, are of primary importance in order to eliminate the emerging pollutants from wastewater because of their high oxygen dependence (Table 1). In full-scale systems, usually hybrid systems combining ponds and constructed wetlands are operated in order to combine both aerobic and anaerobic systems. Hence, whereas SSVF with unsaturated flow seems to be feasible as secondary treatment to attenuate the PPCP pollution from domestic wastewater of small communities, and the SFCW is as tertiary treatment and landscape restoration.
Table 1. Average (n=6) PPCP removal efficiency (%) in subsurface vertical flow (SSVF), subsurface horizontal flow (SSHF) and surface flow (SFCW). Comparison with a full-scale hybrid system.
Short Curriculum Vitae:Josep M. Bayona is Research Professor at the Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA) from the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) in Barcelona (Spain). His main research interests are the Environmental Chemistry focusing on the transformation processes and the pathway of organic contaminants in the environment and engineered ecosystems. He has been appointed Member of the National Committee to cope with the ecological emergency in the Doñana, National Park 1997-1999, GESAMP (Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution) membership 2008. He was editor of the Analytical Chemistry A pages (2003-2005), coeditor of Comprehensive Sampling and Sample Preparation Encyclopedia (Elsevier) and editorial board of the International Journal of Environmental Chemistry.
TITLE: “THE ROLE OF GEOSTATISTICS IN ENVIRONMENTAL EPIDEMIOLOGY”
Invited Speaker: Prof. Dr. Pierre Goovaerts (BioMedware Inc; the University of Florida)
Abstract: Geostatistics provides a set of statistical tools for the analysis of data distributed in space and time. It allows the description of spatial patterns in the data, the incorporation of multiple sources of information in the mapping of attributes, the modeling of the spatial uncertainty and its propagation through decision-making. Since its development in the mining industry, geostatistics has emerged as the primary tool for spatial data analysis in various fields, ranging from earth and atmospheric sciences, to agriculture, soil science, environmental studies, and more recently exposure assessment. In the last few years, these tools have been tailored to the field of medical geography or spatial epidemiology, which is concerned with the study of spatial patterns of disease incidence and mortality and the identification of potential “causes” of disease, such as environmental exposure or socio-demographic factor. This paper provides an overview of geostatistical methods available for the analysis of environmental and health data, with a focus on the mapping of groundwater arsenic in Michigan and its relationship to the incidence of prostate cancer.
Short Curriculum Vitae: Dr. Pierre Goovaerts studied at the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium) and at Stanford University, where he wrote the textbook entitled Geostatistics for Natural Resources Evaluation published by Oxford University Press in 1997. After five years on the Faculty at the University of Michigan, he became in 2002 Chief Scientist for the R&D Company, Biomedware, Inc, where he conducts NIH funded research on the development of geostatistical methodology for the analysis of health and environmental data. He has been developing and implementing in the software SpaceStat new techniques for mapping, cluster and boundary analysis of health outcomes, with a particular focus on cancer. Dr. Goovaerts has authored more than 130 refereed papers in the field of theoretical and applied geostatistics, and he is a reviewer for 50 international journals. He has taught numerous short courses in the US and Europe, which were attended by academics, consultants and federal employees. He has also been teaching in India and Africa.
Dr. Goovaerts created in 2001 his own consulting company, PGeostat, LLC. He now acts as a consultant for the Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and he is bringing his expertise to numerous projects in US and Europe dealing with the characterization of air, soil and water pollution and its impact on human health. Since 2009 he is an off-site employee for the international company CSC (Computer Sciences Corporation), providing expertise on the geostatistical modeling of contaminated sediments in rivers and lakes. He is also working on the preparation of a best practice document for the geostatistical characterization of contaminated sites.
For the last five years, Dr. Goovaerts has been a Courtesy Associate Professor at the University of Florida, Soil and Water Science Department. In 2009, he was appointed Associate Editor of the international journal Mathematical Geosciences. For more information about Dr. Goovaerts, visit his home page at: goovaerts.pierre.googlepages.com.
TITLE: HEALTH AND EARTH – THE EMERGING DISCIPLINE OF MEDICAL GEOLOGY
Invited Speaker: Prof. Dr. Jose A. Centeno (International Medical Geology Association); Email(1): email@example.com; Email(2): firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: http://www.medigalgeology.org
Abstract: Emerging diseases commonly present the medical and health community with many challenges. However, emerging disciplines may offer these communities new opportunities to address a wide range of health problems, including the emerging and re-emerging diseases. One such emerging discipline is Medical Geology, a rapidly growing discipline that has the potential to help medical and public health communities to pursue a wide range of environmental health issues. Medical Geology can be considered a complement of environmental medicine dealing with the impact of the natural geologic materials and geologic processes on the incidence and spatial/temporal distribution of human and animal diseases. Among the environmental health problems that medical scientists are working with the environmental/geosciences community are: exposure to toxic metals of such as arsenic, lead, mercury, and uranium; exposure to naturally occurring organic compounds in drinking water and soils; and exposure to natural and anthropogenic dust and particulate matter. Dust particles are a widely dispersed component of the Earth’s atmosphere, often forming extensive plumes that derive from volcanoes, dust storms, long-range transport episodes of desert dust, and displacement through natural processes such as landslides and earthquakes. Although the consequences of this type of exposure are not fully understood, modern medical and environmental techniques offer promise of developing innovative solutions to prevent or minimize exposure to potentially deleterious natural environmental pollutants and processes. In this presentation, we provide an overview and examples of some of the health problems being addressed by medical geologists dealing with exposure to natural materials and environmental processes.
1. Centeno JA. Natural disasters and their long-term impacts on the health of communities. J Environ Monit 2008;10:266.
2. Selinus O, Alloway B, Centeno JA. Essentials of Medical Geology –Impat of the Natural Environment on Human Health. Elsevier & Academic Press;2005. ISBN:0-12-636341-2.
3. Bunnell JE, Finkelman RB, Centeno JA, Selinus O. Medical Geology – A Discipline Emerging Globally. Geological Acta 2007;5(3):273-281.
Short Curriculum Vitae: Jose A. Centeno, M.Sc., Ph.D., FRSC, is a graduate from Michigan State University and a research scientist with over 20 years of experience in the fields of environmental toxicology and medical geology. Dr. Centeno is a founding member and the current Chairman of the International Medical Geology Association (IMGA). He is the US Officer of the IUGS-Commission on Geosciences for Environmental Management (GEM) and has served as Senior Adviser, UNESCO-IUGS-International Year of Planet Earth (2007-2009). Dr. Centeno currently hold adjunct faculty positions at several national and international academic centers and universities including Turabo University in Puerto Rico (as Distinguished Professor, Environmental and Health), Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi, Metropolitan University in Puerto Rico, and the Faculty of Chemistry-University of the Republic of Uruguay. Dr. Centeno is author and coauthor of over 200 publications (manuscripts, book chapters, reports, monographs and research abstracts), co-editor of the book “Essentials of Medical Geology – Impacts of the Natural Environment on Public Health” (2005) and “Medical Geology – A Regional Synthesis” (2010), serves on the editorial board of four scientific journal, and has organized several national and international conferences, including as the founding member of the International Medical Geology Conference series. He has been involved in numerous academic, government and professional activities including serving as a member of the Working Group for the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC, Vol. 74), US National Institites of Health (NIH) grant proposal Study Sections, USAID grant proposal Review Panel, USEPA TOSCA Interagency Testing Committee, US National Research Council Committee on Earth Sciences and Public Health, and National Academies – Board on International Scientific Organizations (BISO). He is the recipient of several national and international awards, and has been invited to speak in more than 50 countries.
TITLE: CHALLENGES IN ENVIRONMENTAL GEOCHEMISTRY & HEALTH: FUTURE RESEARCH PRIORITIES?
Invited Speaker: Professor Andrew S Hursthouse, University of the West of Scotland, UK
Abstract:Globally the environmental geochemistry community has contributed to a wealth of data and models of the abundance, distribution, transport and partitioning of a wide variety of chemical species from naturally occurring ions through to complex anthropogenic molecules. The contribution to understanding from detailed chemical analysis, innovative experimental evaluation and comprehensive system surveys has provided insight to the environmental controls on human exposure to many potentially harmful substances. The context is often where obvious causal links can be identified surrounding geochemical anomalies from natural and human actions such as waste disposal, accidents and changes in human behaviour.
The range of substances are potentially enormous, but even the briefest scan of reports and literature highlight metals and metalloids (e.g. Pb, As, Cr); radioactivity (e.g. U, Rn, Cs) and organic compounds (petroleum hydrocarbons, pesticides). The exposure is often directly to large populations (e.g. contaminated drinking water, air quality) or in a context significant to society function (e.g. land contamination), local situations often reported in popular and stimulate ongoing scientific investigations (e.g. reported in EG&H). The context for this activity often results in environmental geochemists working in partnership with other disciplines and valuable insight can be gained both for fundamental science and for the improvement of public health. The future demands on resources – supply of raw materials and preservation and enhancing water, food and energy security, will increase the intensity and demand for objective scientific support to regulatory (and political) decision making, further encouraging the scientific community to think more holistically. There are as many barriers as there are opportunities. How will this affect future research opportunities? What is the role of the environmental geochemist?
Short Curriculum Vitae: Andrew Hursthouse in an environmental geochemist based at the University of the West of Scotland, UK, where he is subject development lead for Physical Sciences. Over the last 25 years, his research has included studies of radionuclide migration in coastal soils and sediments; estuarine cycling and bioaccumulation of potentially toxic elements and POPs; urban soil and air quality; contaminated land assessment; the remediation of soils and wastes; micronutrients in maternal health. He has worked extensively with industry, NGOs and as an expert advisor to EU and national and local government initiatives in environmental quality and public health. He is currently European Chair of the Society for Environmental Geochemistry & Health.
TITLE: CHALLENGES IN ENVIRONMENTAL GEOCHEMISTRY & HEALTH: HEALTH AND ITS COSTS?
Invited Speaker: Dr Alex G Stewart, Health Protection Agency, Liverpool, UK
Abstract: The environment has long been known to affect health, with the details beginning to become clear over the past 300 years, through such developments as verifiable theory (e.g. the emergence of the germ theory of infection), systematic and comprehensive observations (all sciences) and enhanced analytical techniques (e.g. in chemistry, clinical sciences, epidemiology).
Health is multi-factorial, with influences ranging from genes and diet through lifestyle and culture to international pressures (including trade and war). Nevertheless, our understanding has largely been built through a reductionist approach to ill-health and disease, by focussing on ever narrower spheres of interest. This method has been very successful in detailing the health effects of many substances: metals and metalloids (e.g. Pb, As, Cr); radioactivity (e.g. U, Rn, Cs) and organic compounds (petroleum hydrocarbons, pesticides).
Public Health action arising from this knowledge concentrates on communities rather than individuals, resulting in the prevention paradox, where the majority of cases of a disease come from a population at low or moderate risk, with only a minority of cases arising from the much smaller population at high risk. So, in environmental terms, interest is often focussed on high profile situations with, as yet, not enough attention paid to more moderate risks and exposures. The burden of disease approach pioneered by WHO is starting to resolve this, showing that, globally, from a few chemicals with available data, there are around five million deaths annually, with over 50% of them in children under 15 years of age.
However, communicating such scientific understandings to the lay community (which really includes scientists of other disciplines as well as the public) brings particular joys and problems, some arising from different perceptions and paradigms.
The challenges (and delights) of partnership working between geochemists and health professionals have never been greater, nor more rewarding: chemical mixtures and statistical confounders, new sciences such as genomics and environmental toxicology, social and health inequalities and deprivation. How will this affect future research opportunities? What is the role of health professionals? What can they offer the environmental geochemist?
Short Curriculum Vitae: Alex Stewart is a Public Health doctor working for the Health Protection Agency in Liverpool, UK where he leads on environmental issues affecting health. His interests include the aetiology, epidemiology and effects on health of iodine deficiency, air pollution and emerging environmental threats, as well as communicating with the public and other professional groups. Before working in Public Health, Alex was a General Practitioner in the Karakoram mountains in northern Pakistan, where his embryonic interest in environmental issues developed through his work on endemic goitre. He sits on the European board of the Society for Environmental Geochemistry & Health and is a Coordinating Editor for Environmental Geochemistry & Health.
TITLE: WHAT NEW ON MERCURY CONTAMINATION AT CONTINENTAL AND GLOBAL SCALES: AN OVERVIEW OF MAJOR SCIENCE AND POLICY ISSUES
Invited Speaker: Dr. Nicola Pirrone, CNR – Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research, Rome, Italy (email@example.com)
The socio-economic consequences of worldwide mercury contamination and its impact on human health and ecosystems has stimulated an intensive debate among scientists and policy makers on the need to phase out the use of mercury in many industrial applications, and limit at the extent possible, its mobility within and between atmospheric, water and soil ecosystems. Selected policy-relevant science questions related to the scale of impact (local-regional-global) of mercury emissions, to the relative importance of natural vs. anthropogenic emission sources contribution, to the time for ecosystems recovery (years-decade-centuries) as consequence of anthropogenic emission reduction policy (legally binding or voluntary actions) at country to regional and global scale has enhanced a more close dialog between science and policy. In the last decade a significant effort has been devoted to bridge science and policy in constructive way, with the goal to develop a cost-effective strategy for solving a long-standing environmental and public health problem caused by enhanced mercury mobilization in the global biosphere.
This paper highlights and discusses major policy-relevant science questions related to mercury contamination and its impact on human health and environmental quality on the basis of our understanding of major pathways affecting the dynamic of mercury in the biosphere in relation to its trade and use, its cycling between and within environmental compartments, and its dependence on the changing climate and emission regime.
Short Curriculum Vitae: Nicola Pirrone is Director of the Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research of the National Research Council of Italy (www.iia.cnr.it) and Adjunct Associate Professor at the Department of Environmental and Health Sciences of the University of Michigan. The goal of his research is to understand the dynamic processes of mercury and other atmospheric pollutants by combining filed measurements and atmospheric modeling on different spatial scales. He has coordinated a number of international research projects and policy working groups. He is currently Chair of the UNEP Global Partnership for Mercury Air Transport and Fate Research, Chair of the WG on Global Atmospheric Mercury Models Intercomparison within the Task Force on Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollutants (TF HTAP) of the UN-ECE-LRTAP convention and Chair of the GEO Task HE-09-02d “Global Monitoring network for Mercury” within the GEOSS program. He has been Chair of the European WGs that prepared the "Air Quality Position Paper on Mercury" that is one of the scientific background documents of the Forth Air Quality Daughter Directive of the European Union and Chair of the WG TC264 of the European Standardization Body (CEN) that was in charge to prepare the standard methods for measuring mercury concentrations in ambient air and precipitation samples as part of the European Air Quality Directives. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles on different topics associated to atmospheric transport and chemistry and policy relevant issues related to mercury and other major atmospheric pollutants.