Beatrice Opeolu (Cape Peninsula University of Technology)
Human and ecological health depend on sustainable use of natural resources. Globally, soil and water are particularly under pressure due to industrialization, urbanization and increasing application of technological innovations in agricultural practices. Land and water resources are therefore negatively affected due to greater demand for food, goods and services as well as sociopolitical factors (e.g., corruption, poverty, political and sectarian violence) and climate change. Assessment, monitoring and innovative remediation strategies of these key resources therefore becomes imperative.
Developing countries are the worst hit by the impacts of soil and water pollution due to unavailability of monitoring remediation technologies and ineffective policy enforcement. Such challenges cannot usually be solved by a single event but by continuous processes that will ensure pollution levels are assessed and controlled. Overutilization of Asian and African soil and water resources necessitates continuous studies on monitoring of use, pollutant levels and cheaper remediation technologies for sustainability. Researchers in the middle and low-income countries are caught between achieving a balance between economic growth opportunities and environmental sustainability with respect to provision of adequate data for policy decisions. This session, therefore, aimed at studies with a focus on assessments, monitoring and remediation innovations of soil and water contaminants. Although, the session targeted African and Asian participants, many interesting contributions were made from European and American scientists.
There were a total of 69 presentations, which included three platform sessions with 16 presentations, a poster corner with five presentations and 48 posters. The first platform session focused on measurement, monitoring and abatement technologies of water and wastewater contaminants. The other two platform sessions were dedicated to soil pollutants assessment, monitoring and remediation using innovative methods. Poster and poster corner presentations included presentations from both streams.
Water and wastewater systems were addressed at the first platform session; presentations covered contaminants assessment, monitoring and remediation in water and wastewater systems. Chemical speciation of organotin compounds using flame photometric detection (FPD), and their toxicity effects on exposed mussels was presented by O.S. Fatoki (Cape Peninsula University of Technology). Other studies presented at the session include monitoring of antibiotics in piggery wastewater and mobility in solid materials, use of biosorption for abatement of perfluorinated compounds in wastewaters, and water pollution effects on shrimp. The other two platform sessions were devoted to soil pollutants monitoring and remediation. Contaminants that were addressed included heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), herbicides and pharmaceuticals. Innovative remediation methods proposed included use of electrodes as electron acceptors for biomineralization of herbicides. Bacterial immobilization by chemotaxis, use of sorbents for reduction of pollutants (PAHs) bioavailability and utilization of solubility properties of chemicals for pollution abatement were some innovative technologies proposed at the session. Jenny Stauber (CSIRO Land and Water) talked about ecosystem restoration using the case studies of a previous SETAC/SER joint workshop. The poster corner and poster sessions featured presentations addressing water and soil themes.
The session’s main issues included:
- Method development, assessment and monitoring of pollutants (organotins, perfluroroctane sufonate, PAHs, heavy metals, herbicides and pharmaceuticals) in soil and water
- Innovative and relatively cheap alternative methods for soil and water pollution abatement
In summary, papers featured assessment methods and levels of pollutants in water and soil, monitoring of these compounds in the environment, and innovative methods of remediating polluted water and soil. Conceptual and experimental papers on soil restoration and pollution management were also delivered.
The sessions were well attended, and participants were happy with the diversity of the talks. Most presenters and the audience expressed their gratitude about the opportunity that the session provided for them. Requests were made to continue the session at subsequent SETAC meetings. The session was first organized as part of the 6th SETAC Africa meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, in 2013 and then the 35th SETAC North America Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada, in 2014. Since its inception, the session has fostered greater collaborations and networking opportunities particularly for African and Asian members. The session now has European and American colleagues volunteering to serve as co-chairs of the session at future meetings. Contributions to the planning of the session from these two larger SETAC geographic units promise greater participation and excitement for further innovation in the future.
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