SEGH Articles

SEGH2019 Prize Winners Series: Carly Woods

12 August 2019
Carly Woods, a PhD researcher at the University of the West of Scotland, won the second-best overall ECR presentation prize and shares her experience of SEGH2019 with us!

The 35th International Conference on Geochemistry and Health

From 1st -5th July, the 35th International Conference on Geochemistry and Health was held within the Business School building at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). Delegates from around the world attended and contributions were made in the form of 6 keynote presentations, platform presentations and poster presentations.  These covered a number of interesting themes which highlighted the core SEGH focus of the link between geochemical environment and health in the broad area of environmental chemistry.


External of the Business building at MMU, site of the 2019 SEGH conference.

The first sessions of the conference were initiated with interesting keynote talks by Prof. David Manning, Newcastle University (Carbon Capture Gardens: a new function for urban wastelands) and Prof. Ricardo Godoi, Federal University of Parana State (Long-term accumulation of perchlorate aerosol combined with geothermal heat flux may contribute to basal ice lubrication at West Antarctica).  These presentations seamlessly integrated with the day’s platform presentation themes of ‘Urban wastelands: potential for enhancing urban resilience’ and ‘Environmental change: impact on the environment & human health’ respectively.

The topics of New Technologies and Environmental Monitoring were represented by various engaging presentations, including those of the keynote speakers: Dr Kirsty Shaw, MMU (Lab-on-a-chip in the environment) and Prof. Stuart Harrad, University of Birmingham (The Organic Flame Retardant Story: Knowns and Unknowns).

Finally, a keynote address by Sarah Dack, Public Health England (The problem of “Background” in contaminated land assessment) lead presentations into the topic of Environmental Health then Dr Haleh Moravej, MMU (Health awareness and wellbeing in Student Population) introduced presentations on Sustainable Nutrition & Agriculture.  Following this, Dr Moravej with some of the team from MetMUnch (MMU based, student-led enterprise promoting sustainable and nutritious food) encouraged full participation in a hands-on workshop of kimchi making to re-inforce the topical conversation of nutrition and food waste prevention.


MetMUnch engagement event, delegates await instruction on food waste tip:  don’t throw away your old food, ferment it to produce long-lasting Korean side dish kimchi.  Image credit: @MetMUnch twitter page.

All presentations evoked interest from delegates of various backgrounds, allowing opportunity for networking and collaborative prospects.  Furthermore, early career researchers were introduced in a specially arranged lunch event.

Additionally to the sessions, the conference had an eventful social programme which included: a welcome mixer; a visit to the much enjoyed Manchester City Football Academy; a formal conference dinner within the luxury Midland Hotel; a pub crawl; and a day trip to the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, giving participants the chance to absorb some of the surrounding Mancunian culture. 


Delegates outside Etihad Stadium, home of the Manchester City football team, post-tour. 


Delegates gathered in front of the Edwardian façade of the prestigious Midland Hotel after enjoying a formal three-course conference dinner. 

At the closing ceremony, it was announced that the 2020 SEGH conferences would be held at two separate events in Kenya and China. 

The closing ceremony initiated with the exciting news that the 2020 SEGH conferences would be held in two separate events in Kenya then in China, whilst Dr Michael Watts (Head of Inorganic Geochemistry at the British Geological Survey) was re-elected as SEGH president with overwhelming support from all delegates.  This session concluded with the prize-giving ceremony and the three Springer prizes were awarded as follows:

  • Tatiana Cocerva (Queen’s University Belfast), Best student oral presentation
  • Carly Woods (University of the West of Scotland), Outstanding student oral presentation
  • Amy Sansby (University of Nottingham), Best student poster presentation
  • Jon Connelly (University of Strathclyde), Outstanding student poster presentation


SEGH 2019 prize winners, Tatiana Cocerva (left), Carly Woods (middle), and Amy Sansby, (right) receiving Springer awards from Prof Andrew Hursthouse, UWS.  Image courtesy of SEGH.

To reiterate one of the messages of the conference, SEGH is planning to release a special edition journal following this conference and encourages members to send suggestions for articles to Dr Sanja Potgeiter-Vermaak:

Special thanks to the conference chair, Dr Sanja Potgieter-Vermaak, co-chair Dr David Megson, the organising committee, and the national and international scientific committee members of SEGH for their hard work in making this event a success.  Additional thanks to MMU for hosting this event.

For further information, including the conference programme and abstracts, please see the MMU SEGH Conference Page.

Image credits: @SocEGH twitter page unless otherwise stated.

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Latest on-line papers from the SEGH journal: Environmental Geochemistry and Health

  • Distribution of metal(loid)s in particle size fraction in urban soil and street dust: influence of population density 2020-01-18


    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.