The Earth has existed for more than four billion years and has sustained life for three billion. Human beings have existed for just 200,000 years, yet our impact on the planet is so great that scientists around the world are calling for our period in the Earth’s history to be named ‘the Anthropocene’ - the age of humans. The changes we are now making have exacted a heavy toll on the natural world around us, and now threaten the planet’s ability to provide for us all. Problems of Ecology and Society in the new geological era as the Anthropocene - ‘the age of humans’ - are overviewed. The name is widely recognized as a useful classification of the period in which human activity has created and continues to generate deep and lasting effects on the Earth and its living systems. Examples of the interrelated effects of exponential population growth and massively expanding consumption of natural resources called Great Acceleration are given. Updated ‘planetary dashboard’ of environmental, economic and social indicators charts the trajectory of the Anthropocene are briefly summarized.
For the first time the concentration of 26 macro- and microelements (Na, Mg, Al, Cl, K, Ca, Sc, V, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Zn, As, Br, Rb, Sr, Sb, I, Cs, Ba, Sm, Nd, Ag, Au, and U) in the thalli of brown algae Cystoseira barbata C. Ag. and Cystoseira crinita (Desf.) Bory was determined by instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA), Sevastopol region, south-western Crimea, the Black Sea. The observed peculiarities of the elemental accumulation showed that Cystoseira spp. can be used as a biomonitor of coastal waters pollution in the study area.
For the third time since 2005 atmospheric deposition of trace elements in Belarus was monitored by the moss technique widely used in Europe for air pollution studies. Samples of moss species of Hylocomium splendens and Pleurozium schreberi were collected at 86 sites over the Gomel, Vitebsk and Minsk Regions in the summer of 2015. A total of 30 elements were determined by epithermal neutron activation analysis. Studying of the temporal trends in Belarus was undertaken with the results obtained in previous moss surveys in 2005/2006 and 2010/2011. Comparison with the analogous data from the neighbouring countries showed relatively low contamination levels in Belarus for the most heavy and toxic elements. The results of survey 2010/2011 showed that, except Cr, other element concentrations reduce or are at the same levels.
Spirulina platensis biomass is widely applied for different technological purposes. The process of lanthanum, chromium, uranium and vanadium accumulation and biosorption by Spirulina platensis biomass from single- and multi-component systems was studied. The influence of multi-component system on the spirulina biomass growth was less pronounced in comparison with the single-component ones. To trace the uptake of metals by spirulina biomass the neutron activation analysis was used. In the experiment on the accumulation the efficiency of studied metal uptake changes in the following order: La(V) > Cr(III) > U(VI) > V(V) (single-metal solutions) and Cr(III) > La(V) > V(V) > U(VI) (multi-metal system). The process of metals biosorption was studied during a two-hour experiment. The highest rate of metal adsorption for single-component systems was observed for lanthanum and chromium. While for the multi-component system the significant increase of vanadium and chromium content in biomass was observed. In biosorption experiments the rate of biosorption and the Kd value were calculated for each metal. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy was used to identify functional groups responsible for metal binding. The results of the present work show that spirulina biomass can be implemented as a low-cost sorbent for metal removal from industrial wastewater.
For the first time active moss biomonitoring was used to assess trace element deposition in the capital of the Republic of Moldova, Chisinau. Moss Sphagnum girgensohnii samples were exposed in bags at three sites of Chisinau from October, 2016 to March, 2017. The content of 30 elements: Na, Mg, Cl, K, Ca, Sc, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Zn, As, Br, Rb, Mo, Sr, Sb, Ba, La, Ce, Cs, Hf, Th, Cu, Cd, Pb, and U in the exposed and unexposed mosses was determined by neutron activation analysis and atomic absorption spectrometry. According to the relative accumulation factor, the most abundant elements in the samples were V, Cr, Fe, Ba, La, As, Sb, U, and Pb. Such elements as Cl, K, and Rb were depleted from the moss tissue during the time of exposure. Principal component analysis was used to identify and characterize different pollution sources. The obtained results indicate that the use of S. girgensohnii moss bags is a simple and inexpensive technique to monitor major and trace element content in the air of urban area.
Some kinds of natural organic materials have a potential for removal of heavy metal ions from wastewater. It is well known that cellulosic waste materials or by-products can be used as cheap adsorbents in chemical treatment process. In this paper, poplar wood sawdust were used for removal of Cu(II), Zn(II) and Fe(II) ions from model solutions with using the static and dynamic adsorption experiments. Infrared spectrometry of poplar wood sawdust confirmed the presence of the functional groups which correspond with hemicelluloses, cellulose and lignin. At static adsorption was achieved approximately of 80 % efficiency for all treated model solutions. Similar efficiency of the adsorption processes was reached after 5 min at dynamic condition. The highest efficiency of Cu(II) removal (98 %) was observed after 30 min of dynamic adsorption. Changes of pH values confirmed a mechanism of ion exchange on the beginning of the adsorption process.
The heavy metal removal from wastewater is very important due to their persistent character in aquatic environment. The use of wooden sawdust is emerging as a potential alternative to the existing conventional technologies for the removal of metal ions from aqueous solutions. The aim of this work is to study the Cu(II) removal of from water by unconventional waste products including the wooden sawdust of poplar, cherry, spruce and hornbeam. The FT-IR spectra of the studied wooden sawdust confirmed the presence of functional groups that have potential for heavy metal binding. The highest efficiency of Cu(II) removal was observed for poplar wooden sawdust at static (86 %) and dynamic (88 %) adsorption experiments. Data obtained by neutron activation analysis revealed that ion exchange is also a mechanism of metal removal by the selected wooden sawdust.
Assessment of the environmental impact of El Sadat City, a Cairo satellite, known for its clustered enterprises, on the neighbourhood water supply El Manashi Tawfikia Canal was undertaken through soil analysis. A total of 20 agricultural soil samples were collected along the El Manashi Tawfikia Canal. Neutron activation analysis was implemented to determine heavy metal contents of such elements as As, Ba, Co, Cr, Ni, and Zn. Multivariate statistical analysis was applied to the results obtained. The metal pollution index and enrichment factor were calculated. It was shown that the content of toxic heavy metals in soil samples does not exceed the worldwide-published values, except arsenic which considerably exceeds normalized to the content of the same element in the Upper Continental Crust. The metal pollution index is high compared with the calculated ones for similar soil samples from the Nile Delta, and the enrichment factor varied from moderate to high enrichment (5 < EF > 10).
The cyanobacterium Nostoc linckia was used to study the biotechnology of selenium nanoparticles synthesis for the first time. The experimental conditions of the nanoparticle production by the studied cyanobacteria in aqueous cobalt selenite solutions were examined. Neutron activation analysis allowed characterization of the dynamics of accumulation of the total selenium quantity by Nostoc linckia. Scanning Electron Microscope images demonstrated extracellular formation of amorphous nanoparticles. Released selenium nanoparticles ranged in size from 10 to 80 nm. The changes of essential parameters of biomass (proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and phycobilin) content during the nanoparticle formation were assessed. During the first 24 h of nanoparticle synthesis, a slight decline of proteins, lipids and carbohydrates content in the biomass was observed. The most extensive was the process of phycobilin degradation. Furthermore, all biochemical component content as well as an antioxidant activity of the biomass extracts significantly decreased. The obtained substance of Nostoc biomass with selenium nanoparticles may be used for medical, pharmaceutical and technological purposes.
Epithermal neutron activation analysis along with ICP-OES, LA ICP-MS, and XRF were used to determine the elemental composition of coal fly ash from the Malta coal power station in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. A total of 54 major, trace and rare earth elements were obtained by the four analytical techniques. The results were compared and the discrepancies discussed to show the merits and drawbacks of each of the techniques. It was shown that the elemental content of this particular coal fly ash are of the same order as the NIST standard reference material Coal Fly Ash 1633b.