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10th ICOBTE

Arsenic in the enviroment - Dynamics and biogeochemistry

Synopsis

In several developing countries in Asia, ingestion of groundwater impacts human health because of elevated arsenic concentrations. Arsenic toxicity is particularly alarming in Bangladesh, India and several other countries in South Asia and is an example of one of the largest environmental health disasters, where at least 50 million people are at risk of cancer and other arsenic related diseases. Although fewer people are thought to be affected, many other countries have reported adverse health effects from ingestion of arsenic in drinking water. More recently, the impact that arsenic in irrigation water and sewage sludge has on crops and aquatic ecosystems have also become of concern. In addition to potential human health impacts caused by ingestion of food containing arsenic, the potential for reduced crop yield due to build-up of arsenic in the soil is an active area of research. Recent studies have revealed enhanced arsenic concentration in the areas of volcanic chains such as in Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and El Salvador where soil and groundwater resources are at risk of elevated arsenic concentrations above the regulatory standards of 10 µg/L or lower in some countries. The lowered standards are projected to greatly increase water supply costs in many regions of the world. The increased pressure on society to protect human health and the ecosystem has stimulated increased research using a wide range of approaches and techniques.

This symposium aims to provide a venue for scientists with a broad range of backgrounds and interests to present and discuss research on arsenic in the environment. Research on arsenic is very active and includes assessment of interactions at scales ranging from molecular bonding to sub-continental, arsenic speciation in inorganic and organic materials using a wide variety of advanced chemical and spectroscopic approaches, and increased understanding the importance of microbes and other biota in arsenic cycling. Although much has been learned about arsenic in the environment, the ability to predict the impact of intentional and unintentional changes to hydrologic and geochemical regimes often remains illusive. Accordingly, a symposium that provides the opportunity for the presentation of wide range studies is both appropriate and timely and will help advance this area.

Proposed themes

We expect contributions from leading arsenic researchers and propose the following major themes for presentation at the symposium:

  1. Source characterization of arsenic in the environment
  2. Dynamics of arsenic in soil, water and biota
  3. Prediction and modelling of the fate of arsenic in natural environment
  4. Analytical techniques and speciation studies
  5. Impact of arsenic on agriculture and the food chain
  6. Arsenic in the geothermal systems and the seismically active areas
  7. Remediation and management of arsenic contaminated soils and groundwater
  8. Managing arsenic in contaminated soil and groundwater systems.

The above topics cover a broad range of issues related to the science of arsenic in the environment, and concerning natural and anthropogenic processes which accelerate or control human exposure to arsenic. We expect a large number of multi-disciplinary arsenic researchers, as indicated by the participation in similar symposia during the preceding three ICOBTE conferences in Uppsala, Adelaide and in Beijing. Discussions are expected to significantly improve our understanding of the global issues and emerging solutions related to arsenics impact on land and water resource management that are so vital for millions of people across the world. The symposium will include oral and poster presentations. Keynote speakers in respective sessions will include experts from the respective fields. Considering the seriousness of this global problem we propose a two-day oral symposium to facilitate a thorough discussion of the arsenic problem from different perspectives.

Committee (Symposium Organizers)

Chair: Dr. Steve McGrath (Rothamsted Research, UK) E-mail: steve.mcgrath@bbsrc.ac.uk & Dr. Prosun Bhattacharya (KTH, Sweden) E-mail: prosun@kth.se
Co Chairs: Dr. Jochen Bundschuh (ICE, Costa Rica) E-mail: jochenbundschuh@yahoo.com; jochen.book@gmail.com
Dr. M. Aurora Armienta (UNAM, Mexico); E-mail: victoria@geofisica.unam.mx
Prof. K.M. Ahmed (University of Dhalka, Bangladesh) E-mail: kmahmed@univdhaka.edu; kazimatin@yahoo.com
Prof. K W Kim (GIST, Korea) E-mail: kwkim@gist.ac.kr
Prof Y-G Zhu (Chinese Academy of Sciences, China) E-mail: ygzhu@rcees.ac.cn
Dra. Marta I. Litter (Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica, Argentina) E-mail: marta.litter@gmail.com

Contact:

Dr. Steve McGrath (Rothamsted Research, UK) E-mail: steve.mcgrath@bbsrc.ac.uk
Dr. Prosun Bhattacharya (KTH, Sweden) E-mail: prosun@kth.se

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