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Science in the News

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

  • Assessment of potentially harmful elements pollution in the Calore River basin (Southern Italy) 2016-05-03

    Abstract

    The geographical distribution of concentration values for harmful elements was determined in the Campania region, Italy. The study area consists of the drainage basin of the River Calore, a tributary of the river Volturno, the largest Southern Italian river. The results provide reliable analytical data allowing a quantitative assessment of the trace element pollution threat to the ecosystem and human health. Altogether 562 stream sediment samples were collected at a sampling density of 1 site per 5 km2. All samples were air-dried, sieved to <100 mesh fraction and analyzed for 37 elements after an aqua regia extraction by a combination of ICP-AES and ICP-MS. In addition to elemental analysis, gamma-ray spectrometry data were collected (a total of 562 measurements) using a hand-held Scintrex GRS-500 spectrometer. Statistical analyses were performed to show the single-element distribution and the distribution of elemental association factor scores resulting from R-mode factor analyses. Maps showing element distributions were made using GeoDAS and ArcGIS software. Our study showed that, despite evidence from concentrations of many elements for enrichment over natural background values, the spatial distribution of major and trace elements in Calore River basin is determined mostly by geogenic factors. The southwestern area of the basin highlighted an enrichment of many elements potentially harmful for human health and other living organisms (Al, Fe, K, Na, As, Cd, La, Pb, Th, Tl, U); however, these anomalies are due to the presence of pyroclastic and alkaline volcanic lithologies. Even where sedimentary lithologies occur, many harmful elements (Co, Cr, Mn, Ni) showed high concentration levels due to natural origins. Conversely, a strong heavy metal contamination (Pb, Zn, Cu, Sb, Ag, Au, Hg), due to an anthropogenic contribution, is highlighted in many areas characterized by the presence of road junctions, urban settlements and industrial areas. The enrichment factor of these elements is 3–4 times higher than the background values. The southwestern area of the basin is characterized by a moderate/high degree of contamination, just where the two busiest roads of the area run and the highest concentration of industries occurs.

  • Erratum to: Environmental modeling of uranium interstitial compositions of non-stoichiometric oxides: experimental and theoretical analysis 2016-05-02
  • Chemical characterization and health risk assessment of soil and airborne particulates metals and metalloids in populated semiarid region, Agra, India 2016-04-13

    Abstract

    Rapid industrialization and urbanization have contaminated air and soil by heavy metals and metalloids from biogenic, geogenic and anthropogenic sources in many areas of the world, either directly or indirectly. A case study was conducted in three different microenvironments, i.e., residential sites, official sites and official sites; for each sites, we choose two different locations to examine the elemental concentration in fine particulate matter and soil and health risk assessment. The concentration values of heavy metals and metalloid in the air and soil in the Agra region were measured using inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrophotometry. The exposure factor and health risk assessment for carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic effects due to heavy metals and metalloid contaminants have been calculated for both children and adults by following the methodology prescribed by USEPA. For the elements As, Cr, Cd, Ni and Pb selected for the carcinogenic health risk assessment, the calculated results lie above the threshold ranges. We observed the lifetime exposure to heavy metals through mainly three pathways, ingestion, inhalation and dermal contact of soil and air from that particular area. Therefore, the overall hazard quotient (HQ) values for children are more than that of adults. The assessment of health risk signifies that there were mainly three exposure pathways for people: ingested, dermal contact and inhalation. The major exposure pathway of heavy metals to both children and adults is ingestion. The values of HQ are higher than the safe level (=1), indicating a high risk exists in present condition. Meanwhile, HQs value for children is higher than that for adults, indicating that children have higher potential health risk than adults in this region.