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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    Assessment of street dust is an invaluable approach for monitoring atmospheric pollution. Little information is available on the size distribution of contaminants in street dusts and urban soils, and it is not known how the population density would influence them. This research was carried out to assess the size distribution of trace metal(loid)s in street dust and urban soil, and to understand how population density might influence the size-resolved concentration of metal(loid)s. Three urban areas with a high, medium and low population density and a natural area were selected and urban soil and street dust sampled. They were fractionated into 8 size fractions: 2000–850, 850–180, 180–106, 106–50, 50–20, 20–10, 10–2, and < 2 µm. The concentration of Pb, Zn, Cu, Cd, Cr, Ni, As, and Fe was determined, and enrichment factor and grain size fraction loadings were computed. The results indicated that the concentration of Pb, Zn, Cu, Cd, and Cr was highly size dependent, particularly for particles < 100 µm, especially for street dust. Low concentrations of Ni and As in street dust and urban soil were size and population density independent. Higher size dependency of the metals concentration and the higher degree of elemental enrichment in the street dust fractions than the urban soils indicate higher contribution of human-induced pollution to the dust. Findings also confirm the inevitability of size fractionation when soils or dusts are environmentally assessed, particularly in moderately to highly polluted areas. Otherwise, higher concentrations of certain pollutants in fine-sized particles might be overlooked leading to inappropriate decisions for environmental remediation.

  • Soil–plant system and potential human health risk of Chinese cabbage and oregano growing in soils from Mn- and Fe-abandoned mines: microcosm assay 2020-01-17


    In Portugal, many abandoned mines are often close to agricultural areas and might be used for plant food cultivation. Soils in the vicinity of two Mn- and Fe-abandoned mines (Ferragudo and Rosalgar, SW of Portugal) were collected to cultivate two different food species (Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis (Lour.) Hanelt and Origanum vulgare L.). Chemical characterization of the soil–plant system and potential risk of adverse effects for human health posed by plants associated with soil contamination, based on the estimation of hazard quotient (HQ), were assessed in a microcosm assay under greenhouse conditions. In both soils, the average total concentrations of Fe and Mn were above the normal values for soils in the region and their concentration in shoots of both species was very high. Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis grew better in Ferragudo than in Rosalgar soils, and it behaved as an excluder of Cu, Mn, Fe, S and Zn in both soils. The HQ for Cu, Fe, Mn and Zn in the studied species grown on both soils was lower than unit indicating that its consumption is safe. The high Mn tolerance found in both species might be due in part to the high contents of Fe in the soil available fraction that might contribute to an antagonism effect in the uptake and translocation of Mn. The obtained results emphasize the need of further studies with different food crops before cultivation in the studied soils to assess health risks associated with high metal intake.

  • Concentration, fractionation, and ecological risk assessment of heavy metals and phosphorus in surface sediments from lakes in N. Greece 2020-01-13


    The presence of phosphorus (P) and heavy metals (HMs) in surface sediments originating from lakes Volvi, Kerkini, and Doirani (N. Greece), as well as their fractionation patterns, were investigated. No statistically significant differences in total P content were observed among the studied lakes, but notable differences were observed among sampling periods. HM contents in all lakes presented a consistent trend, i.e., Mn > Cr > Zn > Pb > Ni > Cu > Cd, while the highest concentrations were recorded in Lake Kerkini. Most of the HMs exceeded probable effect level value indicating a probable biological effect, while Ni in many cases even exceeded threshold effects level, suggesting severe toxic effects. P was dominantly bound to metal oxides, while a significant shift toward the labile fractions was observed during the spring period. The sum of potentially bioavailable HM fractions followed a downward trend of Mn > Cr > Pb > Zn > Cu > Ni > Cd for most lakes. The geoaccumulation index Igeo values of Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, and Zn in all lakes characterized the sediments as “unpolluted,” while many sediments in lakes Volvi and Kerkini were characterized as “moderately to heavily polluted” with regard to Cd. The descending order of potential ecological risk \(E_{\text{r}}^{i}\) was Cd > Pb > Cu > Ni > Cr > Zn > Mn for all the studied lakes. Ni and Cr presented the highest toxic risk index values in all lake sediments. Finally, the role of mineralogical divergences among lake sediments on the contamination degree was signified.