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Geochemistry and human health: fundamentals and approaches towards improvement of risk assessments and practical recommendations

Homo sapiens as product of the natural evolution of the biosphere , was created as a species in the geochemical conditions of the virgin biosphere. After successful colonization of the adverse environmental conditions around the whole world, he started its transformation first by land cultivation, urbanization and now by creation a new habitat exclusively for man. All these have led to a significant geochemical transformation of the virgin biosphere. Nowadays, a growing variety of anthropogenic sources of pollution requires, not only a constant monitoring of the chemical state of soil, water, air and food products, but also the development of spatially differentiated approaches to assessing the health risk by evaluation of diseases’ provocation. To solve this problem, it is necessary to develop effective approaches towards interpretation of spatially related geochemical and medical information. In this way we propose to discuss: 1) the global trends of health transformation in geochemical environment of actual noosphere; 2) different approaches to assess the risk of diseases of geochemical nature in different countries; 3) criteria for determining pollution level depending on geochemical constrains and health effects; 4) the problem of mapping of risk zones, related to negative medical effects due to both excess and deficiency of certain chemical elements or compounds.

Co-organized by BG2/ESSI1
Convener: Elena Korobova | Co-conveners: Jaume Bech, Liudmila KolmykovaECSECS
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Fri, 30 Apr, 09:00–10:30

Chairpersons: Elena Korobova, Jaume Bech, Liudmila Kolmykova

5-minute convener introduction

Vyacheslav Korzh

Biological evolution proceeded under the sign of the liberation of developing organisms from the power of random phenomena in the external environment. At a certain stage in the evolution of living matter - the totality of all living organisms, it became possible to basically implement liberation from the instability of the external environment. Back in the eighteenth century J.-B. Lamarck argued and tried to prove that all substances located on the surface of the globe and forming its crust were formed due to the activity of living organisms. V.I. Vernadsky wrote: “On the earth's surface there is no chemical force that is more permanently acting, and therefore more powerful in its ultimate consequences than organisms taken as a whole” [1]. We find convincing proofs of the formation of a biogeochemical environment by living matter in accordance with their needs in the work of V.V. Kovalsky's [2].

We have studied the dynamics of the global process of transfer of chemical elements in the ocean-atmosphere-continent-ocean system. Living matter is an active participant in this process. As a result of metabolic processes, living matter constantly creates and constantly maintains an increased concentration of trace elements in its environment. The biocenosis of the hydrosphere initiates  increasing of the soluble forms of microelements in its habitat. The terrestrial biocenosis acts in the opposite direction [3]. The nonlinear laws of the processes of redistribution of average elemental compositions in the biosphere between liquid and solid phases (hydrosphere-lithosphere system) have been established. We have established a universal constant of nonlinearity of these processes in the biosphere (equal to 0.7) [3].

Human activity makes irreversible changes in the dynamics of the biosphere, and at the present stage of development of a technogenic civilization, the scale of human expansion into natural processes is such that they begin to destroy the biosphere as an integral ecosystem. The impending global ecological catastrophe requires development of fundamentally new strategies in scientific  activities that ensure harmonious coexistence of man and nature. We are developing the concept of the harmonious integrity of the biosphere (the concept of biosphere homeostasis). The stability of biogeochemical and other processes on the Earth's surface is completely determined by the coordinated, purposeful activity of living matter as an integral system [3]. The universal constant of nonlinearity of the processes of formation of the elemental composition of the biosphere (equal to 0.7) established by us should be accepted as an ecological standard, violation of which is unacceptable.


How to cite: Korzh, V.: Living Matter as a Self-Organizing System, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8735, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-8735, 2021.

Elena Evstafeva et al.

The implementation of basic principles of medical and ecological monitoring programs in Crimea previously reported in EGU proceedings consists of determining the content of a wide range of toxic, essential and rare earth elements in various biological substrates: soil, plants, water, human body. Biosubstrates are sampled in different locations with contrast natural and anthropogenic conditions: urbanized-rural, industrial-agricultural, natural resources. Lichens and poplar leaves are used as indicators of environmental contamination, particularly atmospheric pollution; liquid precipitation is used as an indicator showing the negative impact of air pollution on ecosystems; hair is used as an indicator of the total body intake of chemical elements. The update of databases, on some of the territories (Simferopol, Sevastopol, geographical regions with different soil characteristics, etc.) with regard to some of the elements (mercury, lead, cadmium, selenium, etc.) at this stage allowed to determine their biogeochemical status in conditions of intensive growth of anthropogenic load in recent years, and to compare it with the elemental status of the humans living in this territory. The databases for other types of territories continue to be extended, the relationship between morbidity to estimate of the environmental burden of disease for environmentally determined diseases (neurodegenerative, endocrine, respiratory, etc.) and chemical load on the territories, based on USEtox model; the functional state of target systems (nervous, immune, cardiovascular) and level of chemical elements in the human body and the overall elemental imbalance, is established. This has provided us with a degree of understanding on how the degree of population and individual health risk could be determined.

Mercury analysis was funded by RFBR according to the research project № 18-29-24212\19 entitled “Development of neutralization of mercury-containing waste without heating and the formation of wastewater”, 2018–2021 years; elemental composition was possible to determine due to RFBR project № 18-45-920042\20 entitled “Bioecological monitoring of heavy metals at board of Black Sea of Crimea”, 2018–2020 years. Physiological part of research was possible to accomplish due to funds by the V.I. Vernadsky Crimean Federal University (Project No VG2019/15, АААА-А20-120012090158-7).

How to cite: Evstafeva, E., Tymchenko, S., Bogdanova, A., Zalata, O., Boyarinceva, Y., Moskovchuk, O., Evstafeva, I., Slusarenko, A., Makarova, A., and Yaseneva, E.: Theoretical and practical aspects in determining the current geochemical status of the Crimean peninsula and anthropogenic risk to public health, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-11120, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-11120, 2021.

Vladislav Zinchenko et al.

Nature of soil as a main Earth’s biogeochemical reactor is dramatically underestimated. This is the inappropriate result of outdated technologies of the current industrial stage of development.

There are attempts to hide the technological drawbacks under the veil of different modern terms. This, unfortunately, does not change the essence of the current aggravating conflict between biosphere and technology. This is a reluctance to abandon the nature-imitation approach to technology, including environmental, chemical, agrarian technology. The development potential of the biosphere is used now not on the full scale. There is a need now for heuristically qualified intuition to understand the nature of the niche for environmental soil engineering technology strategic development. This approach will ease the current contradiction between biosphere and technology. The global environmental challenge is a transcendental (not a direct imitation of nature) Biogeosystem Technique (BGT*) technological platform of the Noosphere.  BGT* is capable to promote a promising niche for the environmental business development and nature-similar technological management.

One time BGT* based intra-soil milling of the 20–50 cm layer provides soil stable fine multilevel aggregate system, soil biome function for up to 40 years. The BGT* based intra-soil pulse continuous-discrete watering solves the world water scarcity problem. Water consumption is 5–20 times less compared to standard irrigation. The soil solution matrix potential range is from −0.2 MPa to −0.4 MPa, plant stomatal apparatus operates in the regulation mode. Water and nutrient efficacy is high. Intra-soil recycling of the municipal, industrial, waste and gasification byproduct in the soil layer of 20–50 cm in the course of this layer milling provides safety of the environment and plant nutrition. The yield is higher for 50–80 % compared to standard technology.

BGT* gives the new transcendental prospect to stabilize the Earth’s biosphere and climate system. The possibilities to achieve a goal are as follows: soil compaction overcoming; freshwater saving and high-level soil solution equilibria control; environmentally safe waste recycling; high biogeochemical barrier for heavy metal; of atmosphere N fixation in photosynthesis; soil organic matter synthesis, better function of humic substances, polymicrobial biofilms, and plant stimulants; plant resistance to phytopathogen, phytopathological, medical and veterinary environmental safety.

BGT*chemical soil-biological engineering intensifies the nutrient turnover and fertilizers return, decreases pesticides and nutrients off-target transport. This ensures higher yield and biofuel, higher efficacy of the technology, soil-biological reversible C sequestration, productive biosphere spreading, abundance, and safety; adaptation to climate change. BGT* provides the higher recreational potential of the biosphere. BGT* implementation requires technological and regulatory breakthrough for soil-chemical technology development niche expansion non-contradicting to Nature. BGT* is a promising sphere for worldwide Noosphere ventures.

The research was financially supported by the RFBR, project no. 18-29-25071, and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Russia, project no. 0852-2020-0029.

How to cite: Zinchenko, V., Grishina, E., Kalinitchenko, V., Glinushkin, A., Kudeyarov, V., Gudkov, S., Savostyanov, A., Minkina, T., Ilyin, V., and Mandzhieva, S.: Biogeosystem Technique methodology as a new chemical soil-biological engineering foundation for the safe expanded technological development in the Noosphere, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14516, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-14516, 2021.

Vladimir Baranchukov et al.

Thyroid cancer is one of the most important medical problems. The disease often occurs in regions that have been exposed to radiation and where there is insufficient iodine in nature. Adequate intake of iodine is necessary for the functioning of the thyroid gland and the development of the mammalian fetus. Thus, in 1990, a special International Council for Combating Iodine Deficiency Disorders was established at WHO. Since 1990, the incidence of thyroid cancer in the world has increased by 169% (Dang et al., 2020). It can be assumed that such an increase is associated with early detection of the disease. However, in countries with high human development index (HDI), where the detection rate of the disease is 4-5 times higher than in low HDI countries, this indicator does not correlate with mortality from thyroid cancer. In our opinion, this is because the food sources must be considered. As local foods to the diet varies significantly between urban and rural areas, it is important to compare cases of thyroid cancer in them. For example, in rural areas of the United States, the overall incidence of thyroid cancer is 14% lower than in cities (McDow et al., 2020).

For the Bryansk region (the most affected by the Chernobyl accident in Russia) data on thyroid cancer also show a difference: in 27 regional centers (67% of the population), an estimate of the thyroid cancer incidence is 20.9 per 100 000 people per year (period from 1990 to 2019), while for other localities the rate is much lower (16.3). However, mortality from thyroid cancer in rural areas is 46% higher than in urban areas (0.89 and 0.60, respectively). Using a specialized GIS developed to study natural and man-made geochemical factors responsible for the spread of endemic diseases, we zoned the territory according to evaluated risk (Baranchukov et al., 2019).

Assessment of the risk of thyroid cancer turned out to be more effective for rural settlements (excluding the most contaminated area, where special measures were taken): the correlation between the calculated total natural and man-made risk and the incidence of thyroid cancer was significant and higher in rural areas (r=0.54, p=0.05, n=25) than in the main urban areas (r=0.27; p=0.17). The result of the study shows that the prevalence of thyroid cancer is associated, first of all, not with the level of diagnosis, but with the structure of nutrition, which ensures the entry of elements into the human body.

This study was funded by RFBR and BRFBR, project #20-55-00012.


Deng Y et al. Global Burden of Thyroid Cancer From 1990 to 2017. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(6):e208759. Published 2020 Jun 1. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.8759

McDow AD, et al. Impact of Rurality on National Trends in Thyroid Cancer Incidence and Long-Term Survival. J Rural Health. 2020 Jun;36(3):326-333. doi: 10.1111/jrh.12374. Epub 2019 May 17. PMID: 31099945

Baranchukov V et al. Application of Geoinformation Technologies for minimization of thyroid gland diseases in the impact areas of the radioiodine fallout, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-9000, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-9000, 2020

How to cite: Baranchukov, V., Korobova, E., Silenok, A., and Kurnosova, I.: Assessment of the Risk of Thyroid Cancer in Rural Settlements in the Areas of the Bryansk Region (Russia) Affected by the Chernobyl NPP Accident, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9264, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-9264, 2021.

Natalia Baranovskaya et al.

There are many LCA methods and models (e.g. CML 1992, Eco-Indicator 95, IMPACT 2002+, TRACI, USEtox, etc.), used to characterize environmental impacts. Only four LCIA methods include spatial dimension at different geographical levels: Impact World+, LC-IMPACT, EDIP 2003 and USEtox (Bratec et al., 2019). Among these, three (Impact World+, EDIP 2003 and USEtox) include a human health impact category: human toxicity. The USEtox model, recommended by the European Commission, has already proved its efficiency for the coupling of environmental and geochemical studies. The Characterization factors of the USEtox describe environmental fate (FF) of the chemicals, their non- and carcinogenic effect (EF), direct and the indirect exposure (XF). All these factors vary depends on the applicable area. However, despite all advantages of the model, its geographical customization is rather generic. This paper presents the utilization of the already published case study (Belyanovskaya et al., 2019: 2020) with the indirect human exposure factor modification. The investigation present the modified biotransfer factor of the metals (Cr, Zn, Sb, As, Ba) of the meat product calculated specifically for different location inside the area “Central Asia”. The paper extends already published results with local data of the city of Vladivostok (Russia).


The statistical data processing is supported by State program RF «Science». Project FSWW-0022-2020.

The impact assessment with the USEtox model is supported by the RSF grant (№ 20-64-47021).

How to cite: Baranovskaya, N., Belyanovskaya, A., Laratte, B., and Ageeva, E.: The critical parameters of the human health impact calculation            , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9348, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-9348, 2021.

Elena Korobova and Sergey Romanov

Now it is obvious that animals and humans suffer from both deficit and excess of trace elements due to a systematic imbalance of chemical elements in modern diets. Although the physiological role of many elements is not completely studied, some part of them is treated as toxic. We consider that this definition is fallacious and propose a spatial dose-dependent approach accounting of optimal element concentrations for better identification and treatment of diseases of geochemical origin.

Basing on the fact that the living organisms have met with a wide variety of geochemical conditions in the process of evolution, we suggest that the ability to survive in case of fast changing chemical conditions has been fixed in the genetic code of existing species by preservation of the so-called “dormant” genes. We assume that the ability to adapt quickly could have been realized due to the activity of “dormant” genes, which are inherent as active only in a small part of individuals, because in extremely changing conditions it can give rise to a new generation. In our opinion, experiments of Prat with campion species [1], those of Bradshaw with sorrel and plantain [2], of Letunova with soil microorganisms [3], of Krivolutsky with lower vertebrates [4] along with recent publication on the genetically determined rapid adaptation of Colorado beetles to many pesticides [5] earnestly confirms this idea. As this mechanism protects species stability, we presume that it is a common feature of members of biocenosis. Therefore, all species of biogeocenoses should represent a specific collection of individuums (morphs) with “active dormant” genes thereby acquiring high ability of not only survival of populations in extremal conditions but also occupation of new ecological niches. We consider such a defence mechanism to be rational, since it allows a quick leveling reaction of species to a certain type of extremal impact.

This additional theoretical hypothesis seems to be productive from the point of view of solving practical problems, since it allows more rational directing of genetic research and analyzing the risk of endemic diseases.


1. S. Prat, 1934. Die erblichkeit der resistenz gegen Kupfer, Ber. Dtsch. bot. Ges 1 (102), 65–67.
2. A.D. Bradshaw, 1952. Populations of Agrostis tenuis resistant to lead and zinc poisoning, Nature 169, 28.
3. S.V. Letunova & V.V. Koval’skii, 1978. Geochemical Ecology of Microorganisms. Nauka, Moscow.
4. D.A. Krivolutskii, 1983. Radioecology of Communities of Land Animals. Energoatomizdat, Moscow.
5. K. Brevik, E.M. Bueno, S. McKay, S.D. Schoville, Y.H. Chen, 2020. Insecticide exposure affects intergenerational patterns of DNA methylation in the Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata. Evolutionary Applications, DOI: 10.1111/eva.13153.

How to cite: Korobova, E. and Romanov, S.: Theoretical approaches to revealing and treating endemic diseases of geochemical origin , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12725, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-12725, 2021.

Stephanie Koller et al.

Influences of air substances and meteorological conditions on human health

For a long time it has been known that exceptionally strong and long-lasting heat waves have negative health effects on the population, which is expressed in an intensification of existing diseases and over-mortality of certain risk groups (Kampa, Castanas 2008). Often associated with heat are stagnant airflow conditions that cause a large increase in the concentration of certain air substances (Ebi, McGregor 2008). Many of these air substances have a strong adverse effect on the human organism (Kampa, Castanas 2008).

The aim of the project is to investigate the actual hazard potential air pollution- and climatological variables by quantifying the effects on human health of increased exposure to air constituents and temperature extremes. Different multivariate statistical methods such as correlation analysis, regression models and random forests, extreme value analysis and individual case studies are used.

As a medical data basis for this purpose, the emergency department data of the University Hospital Augsburg are regarded. In addition to the diagnosis, supplementary information such as age, gender, place of residence and pre-existing conditions of the patients are used. Among the air constituents, the focus is on ozone, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. In the meteorological part, the focus is primarily on temperature, which is not only a direct burden but, as in the case of ozone, also has a decisive influence on the formation of ground-level ozone. However, a large number of other meteorological parameters such as precipitation, relative humidity and wind speed as well as the synoptic situation also play a major role in the formation, decomposition process and the distribution of pollutants (Ebi, McGregor 2008).

The first major question to answer is whether air pollution and meteorological stress situations are visible in the emergency department data. Further in-depth questions are which factors have the greatest negative impact, what is the most common environment-related disease, which weather conditions carry a higher than average risk and what are the health risks of climate change.

Ideally, the analysis may also provide a short-term forecast from which to derive whether or not there will be an above or below average number of visits to the emergency department.

The project is funded by the German Federal Foundation for Environment (DBU) and the German Research Foundation (DFG) - project number 408057478.


Nuvolone D., Petri D., Voller F. (2017): The effects of ozone on human health. doi: 10.1007/s11356-017-9239-3.

Requia W., Adams M., Arain A., Papatheodorou S., Koutrakis P., Mahmoud M. (2018): Global Association of Air Pollution and Cardiorespiratory Diseases: A Systematic Review, Meta-Analysis, and Investigation of Modifier Variables. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2017.303839

Xing Y., Xu Y., Shi M., Lian Y. (2016): The impact of PM2.5 on the human respiratory system. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2072-1439.2016.01.19


How to cite: Koller, S., Hertig, E., Meisinger, C., and Wehler, M.: Influences of air substances and meteorological conditions on human health, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-5641, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-5641, 2021.

Tatiana Minkina et al.

The combustion of solid fuel at power plants pollutes adjacent areas with potentially toxic elements (PTEs), which increases risks to public health in the vicinity of these facilities. With an installed electric capacity of 2258 MW, the Novocherkassk Power Plant (NPP) is the top electric energy producer in Southern Russia. This facility is located in the vicinity of one of the largest cities in the Rostov Region, Novocherkassk, with a population of 168,035 people. Among the major cities in the region, Novocherkassk is characterized by the maximum level of atmospheric pollution. The study was conducted at 12 monitoring sites laid along the radii emanating from the NPP chimneys. The sites were located in the near-source influence zone (up to 3 km) in various directions and at greater distances (from 3 to 20 km) downwind. In this study, various indicators of environmental quality (geoaccumulation index (Igeo), pollution index (PI), and Nemerow pollution index (NPI)) as well as human health risk model (US EPA 1989) were applied to identify spatial distribution and to evaluate risks of seven PTEs (Cr, Mn, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, and Pb) in soils. The results demonstrate the relationship between the features of atmospheric circulation and PTE content in soils within the NPP impact zone. The main pattern in spatial distribution of soil pollution is a decrease in the concentrations of PTEs with distance from the source. The influence of NPP can be traced out to approximately 7 km downwind. The total content of PTEs in the soils slightly exceed the Clarke values for the upper continental crust, as well as the world average concentrations of these elements in soils (up to two times). Moderate to high pollution by Cd and Pb, according to the Igeo, is characteristic of the soils at a distance of up to 3 km to the NPP. The PI also demonstrates higher pollution estimates relative to distance from the source; soils in impact zone of NPP are characterized by low or no pollution by Cr, Mn, Ni, Cu, and Zn, and moderate pollution by Cd and Pb. Soils located in the leeward zone are moderately polluted with Ni and Zn and very strongly to strongly polluted with Cd and Pb. According to the NPI values, pollution decreases from heavy in the area immediately downwind of the source to slight for most of the territory under consideration. The risks of noncarcinogenic effects on children are assessed as low, their occurrence is attributed to the intake of Mn, Ni, and Pb, while for adults there was no significant general toxic risk associated with the intake. The total carcinogenic risk to human health slightly exceeds the permissible standard for soils in close vicinity of the enterprise due to the potential intake of Ni, Cd, and Pb.

The reported study was funded by RFBR, project number 19-05-50097 and Grant of President of Russian Federation, no. МК-6137.2021.1.5.

How to cite: Minkina, T., Konstantinova, E., Mandzhieva, S., Bauer, T., Nevidomskaya, D., Fedorov, Y., Kalinitchenko, V., and Glinushkin, A.: Environmental and human health risks associated with soil potentially toxic element exposure around the largest coal fired power plant in Southern Russia, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15724, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-15724, 2021.

Tatiana Fashchevskaia and Yury Motovilov

A medico-ecological research method is proposed based on the coupled spatial analysis of zones of excessive pollution of river waters with heavy metals (HM) in the basin of the Nizhnekamskoe Reservoir (catchment area of 186 000 km2) and data on the health status of the local population.

For the spatial analysis of the heavy metal cycle in the river basin (on its surface, in soil, ground and river waters), a physically based ECOMAG-HM model with a daily time step resolution was developed. The model consists of two main blocks: a hydrological submodel of runoff formation and a hydrochemical submodel of migration and transformation of HM in the river basin [1]. The model was calibrated and verified on the basis of long-term hydrometeorological and hydrochemical observations data at 34 hydrochemical monitoring sites. Maps of simulated mean annual HM concentrations in river water were constructed and areas with significant levels of HM contamination (copper, zinc, manganese) were identified, including catchment areas not covered by hydrochemical monitoring.

The population in the study region has notably higher morbidity rate in priority class diseases (of digestive system, urogenital system, blood and hemopoietic organs, as well as disorders related to immunity mechanism) than the average level in Russia. Occurrence of these diseases is mostly determined by the state of the environment and, even more, by the quality of drinking water and consumed biological products (fish). To analyze the influence of the river water contaminated with heavy metals on the health of the population the statistical data on general morbidity in the region had been previously analyzed separately for two age group: adult population and children under 14. The most relevant research object is child morbidity. Children permanently live in the area without being directly exposed to hazardous work conditions and have relatively healthy lifestyle which excludes the influence of additional harmful factors (overeating, smoking, alcohol consumption) that increase the risk of many diseases development.

The coupled spatial analysis of the population morbidity and the river water contamination maps shows that zones with high and excessive population morbidity rates are located mainly within the highlighted areas with increased concentration of HM in the river water. However, it does not seem possible at this point to separate the effects of man-made impact of air, contaminated with toxic emissions, water and locally produced food on the health of the population. Therefore, to obtain more accurate results within the next stage it is planned to conduct spatial statistical analysis of morbidity risk in separate groups of diseases, mostly determined by health effect of heavy metal water contamination.

1. Motovilov Yu.G., Fashchevskaya T.B., 2019. Simulation of spatially-distributed copper pollution in a large river basin using the ECOMAG-HM model. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 64 (6), 739-756. DOI: 10.1080/02626667.2019.1596273


This study was carried out under Governmental Assignment to the Water Problems Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences (subject no. 0147-2019-0001)

How to cite: Fashchevskaia, T. and Motovilov, Y.: Risk assessment mapping of diseases caused by excess heavy metals in river water, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2710, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-2710, 2021.

Ilia Lobzenko et al.

Large rivers and their deltaic parts and adjacent coastal zones are subjected to strong anthropogenic influence and are often considered as hotspots of environmental pollution. The Don River basin is a highly urbanized area with developed agriculture and industry which negatively affect water quality, aquatic ecosystems and soils. The main objectives of the proposed research were to determine the levels of potentially toxic elements (PHEs) in soils of various aquatic landscapes of the study area, as well as to reveal the relationships between the content of exchangeable PTEs and the physical-chemical properties of floodplain soils.

Depending on the soil-landscape and hydrological conditions and taking into account the intensity of anthropogenic influence, the following zones were identified: the lower Don floodplain from the Tsimlyansk Reservoir to the source of the Mertvy Donets River, Don Delta, the coastal zone of the Taganrog Bay, the mouths of small rivers flowing into the bay, and Taganrog city, an industrial port center on the northern coast of the bay.

The floodplain and coastal landscapes of the study area are dominated by Fluvisols. Solonchaks, Arenosols and Haplic Chernozems which are background soils of the region are less common. Soil samples were collected in summer 2020 from the surface soil horizon (0–20 cm deep). The particle size analysis was conducted using the pipette method; the total organic carbon content in the soils was determined using the dichromate oxidation; the pH was measured by potentiometry in the supernatant suspension of soil and water in a ratio of 1:2.5. The total concentrations of Cr, Mn, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, and Pb were determined by X-ray fluorescence analysis using a Spectroscan MAX-GV spectrometer (Spectron, Russia), and the content of exchangeable forms extracted from the soil by NH4Ac buffer solution with pH 4.8 and soil/solution ratio of 1:10 for 18 h was determined by atomic absorption spectrophotometry.

The obtained results showed that soils of the Lower Don and Taganrog Bay coastal zone are rather contrasted in terms of properties and metal contents, which indicates the variability of landscapes, natural and anthropogenic processes in the studied systems. High CV values for Pb, Zn, Cd and Cr indirectly indicate strong anthropogenic influence on these environments. The results of PCA analysis showed that there are two association of metals in terms of geochemical behaviour and sources. The first one included Cr-Zn-Pb-Cd, the elements of anthropogenic origin, the second Mn, Ni, and Cu, which are probably of mixed origin. The obtained results showed that the coastal zone is a diverse and complex system subjected to anthropogenic activities, which is pronounced in the enrichment of aquatic soils with a number of metals and higher proportions of exchangeable forms from different types of sources.

This work was funded by the Russian Science Foundation, grant no. 20-14-00317.

How to cite: Lobzenko, I., Nevidomskaya, D., Konstantinova, E., Minkina, T., Bauer, T., Zamulina, I., Chaplygin, V., Sushkova, S., and Savin, I.: Potentially toxic elements in floodplain soils the Don River basin of Southern Russia, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15744, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-15744, 2021.

Liudmila Kolmykova et al.

Chemical composition of drinking water samples (n=515 in total) collected in rural settlements of Bryansk region (Russia) in the period from 2007 to 2020 was analyzed to reveal its relation to the origin of water-bearing rocks and spatial distribution of endemic diseases of thyroid gland among local population. To identify the health effects of drinking water, spatial correlation between concentrations of iodine, selenium and other elements in particular settlements and medical information on the prevalence of endemic thyroid diseases among the local residents was assessed. Sampling was carried out in rural settlements distributed within all the 27 districts of the Bryansk region from different available sources fed by aquifers in hydrogeological structures of different composition and age. Water samples were analyzed for major cationogenic elements (Ca, Mg, Sr, K, Na, Mn, Zn, Fe, Al, Si) and anions (HCO32-, Cl-, F-, SO42-, NO32-, PO42-)as well as for I- and Se using ICP-AES, potentiometry, photometry and spectrofluorimetry.

The results confirmed a low supply of water samples with iodine (Me= 5.96 μg/L, variation range 0.06 - 41.2 μg/L) and selenium (Me= 0.18 μg/L, variation 0.001 - 6.21 μg/L). The concentration levels of iron (64% of examined districts), manganese (36% of examined districts) and strontium (8% of examined districts) appeared to be inconsistent with hygienic standards. Tendencies of relationship between water iodine concentration and the incidence of thyroid diseases caused by iodine deficiency among teenagers aged 8 to 12 have been found. The same trend was found when comparing geochemical data with iodine content in renal excretion in this age group.

The presented study demonstrates the applicability of spatial data analysis in identifying and visualizing the relationship between the manifestation of endemic thyroid diseases and the geochemical characteristics of the environment, which is necessary for assessing the quality of local diets and their correction.

The study was partly supported by Russian Foundation for Basic Research and Belorussian Republican Foundation for Basic Research (project number 20-55-00012).


How to cite: Kolmykova, L., Korobova, E., Baranchukov, V., and Kurnosova, I.: Peculiarities of chemical composition of drinking water in rural settlements of Bryansk region and evaluation of its health effect (contribution to endemic thyroid diseases), EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8786, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-8786, 2021.

Janki Patel et al.

Erionite is a naturally-occurring zeolite mineral that has emerged as a well-known health hazard over the last few decades. Human exposure to erionite fibers has been unequivocally linked to malignant mesothelioma, a disease also associated with inhalation of airborne asbestos. Indeed, erionite is now classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a Group 1 carcinogen (i.e., carcinogenic to humans), but it appears to be more toxic than asbestos. Since volcaniclastic rocks containing erionite are widely present in New Zealand, there is a concern over potential health issues following inhalation of dust particles in particular areas.  Indeed, New Zealand is one of a number of high-income countries with elevated incidence of malignant mesothelioma (2.6 per 100,000), and this has traditionally been thought to be a result of occupational exposure to airborne asbestos fibers. However, recent cases of malignant mesothelioma have emerged without a known link to asbestos exposure, and in 2015, the New Zealand Government acknowledged that erionite was a more potent carcinogen than asbestos. Despite this, there are no established occupational exposure limits for erionite in New Zealand or globally. We are currently using a multi-methodological approach, based upon field investigation, morphological characterization, scanning electron microscopy (SEM)/energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), and X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD) to analyse erionite from sites around New Zealand. Preliminary results are reported here, including erionite from Miocene tuff in Auckland. The erionite appears to be erionite-K. From the dimensional analysis, 45.6% of minerals satisfied the requirements for a respirable airborne fibre (length, L ≥ 5 μm, a diameter, w ≤ 3 μm, and L/w value ≥ 3:1). The presence of this mineral is of concern for risk to human health, especially considering the land development in the Auckland region and the quarries and mining-related activities that are operating in the zeolite host rocks elsewhere in New Zealand. Thus, there is a need for a detailed risk assessment in parts of the country indicative of potential hazard. Further assessments of erionite species, quantification of the potentially respirable airborne fibers, and targeted epidemiological surveillance are planned.

How to cite: Patel, J., Brook, M., Di Giuseppe, D., Scognamiglio, V., and Gualtieri, A. F.: Geological occurrence, mineralogical character and preliminary risk assessment of carcinogenic erionite in New Zealand, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13686, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-13686, 2021.

Sergei Buzmakov

Soils are the main component in biogeocenoses. More than 30 types and subtypes of soils are represented in the territory of the Perm region (Russia); however, in the oil-producing areas, the main share of soils is Albicluvisols/Retisols, Calcaric Leptosols, Luvic Phaeozems, Greyzamic Phaeozems and Folic Fluvisols. These soils cover a large area of the Perm region and are the basis for the existence of typical coniferous-deciduous forests and forest-steppe biogeocenoses. In this regard, the question of the impact of oil pollution of these soils on plants, animals and humans is relevant.

The ecological safety of microbocenosis, phytocenosis, zoocenosis and humans depends on the state of the soil. Soil contamination, including pollution by oil and refined products, negatively affects the state of all components of the cenosis.

The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between soil type and the response of test organisms of various organismic levels to oil pollution, to determine the most sensitive criterion for assessing the safe concentration of oil in each type of soil.

As a result of the environmental assessment, it was possible to identify patterns between the type of oil-contaminated soil and the state of test organisms of various organismic levels. The use of direct experimental methods, as well as software products, made it possible to assess the impact of oil pollution in various types of soils on microbial and plant test organisms, to assess the impact on aquatic organisms.

How to cite: Buzmakov, S.:  Environmental standards for the concentration of hydrocarbons in soils, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-342, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-342, 2020.

Elizaveta Konstantinova et al.

Cities are the key centers of technogenesis, which leads to environmental pollution. The state of the soil cover reflects the long-term anthropogenic impact as a result of urbanization processes. In the urban environment, the priority pollutants are potentially toxic elements (PTEs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), since they are not only an environmental hazard, but also a risk factor for the public health. Tyumen city, with a population of 807,300 people, is a large transport and trade center in Western Siberia, Russia, with a developed service sector, construction and manufacturing industries. The aim of the study is to evaluate possible carcinogenic and noncarcinogenic risks related to PTEs and PAHs in urban topsoils of Tyumen, as representative of urban environment in Western Siberia.

Topsoil samples (0-10 cm) were collected according to the regular grid at 241 sampling points. The total content of V, Cr, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Sr, and Pb was determined using X-Ray fluorescence spectrometry. Content of twelve priority PAHs was measured using high-performance liquid chromatograph Agilent 1260 Infinity. Human health risk assessment was based on the US EPA model (1989). The noncarcinogenic risk for different age groups of the population, expressed as a hazard quotient (HQ), was evaluated by comparing the average daily dose of pollutant (ADD) with a reference dose (RfD). Carcinogenic risk (CR) reflects the probability of developing cancer in an individual throughout their life, taking into account the lifetime average daily dose of a pollutant (LADD) and carcinogen slope factor (SF). Values of RfD and SF were based on toxicological data (U. S. EPA 1997, 2004, 2020; ATSDR 2020; OEHHA 2020). The combined effects were assessed using the total hazard index (THI) and the total carcinogenic risk (TCR).

Noncarcinogenic risks were more likely caused by intake of V, Co, As, Pb, Ni and Cu. For both children and adults, the risk associated with the oral intake of pollutants was the greatest. For children, significant risks arose from exposure to V, Co, As and Pb (HQ> 1). The THI values for children varied from 0.78 to 7.25, on average 2.72, for adults - from 0.08 to 0.79, on average 0.27. Most of the territory was characterized by a medium non-carcinogenic risk for children and a low risk for adults.

Significant CR was associated with long-term exposure to Co, As, Pb and benzo[a]pyrene. The TCR values under the combined effect of PTEs and PAHs ranged from 1.2 × 10-5 to 2.2 × 10-4, on average 6.9 × 10-5. In general, the level of carcinogenic risk in the city was assessed as low. Medium carcinogenic risk was established in the soils of impact zones of enterprises for the production and disposal of batteries, CHPP-1 and some large transport hubs. An extensive zone of increased carcinogenic risk was established in the residential area of the central part of the city.

The research was funded by RFBR and Tyumen Region, project no. 20-45-720003, and by Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, no. 0852-2020-0029.

How to cite: Konstantinova, E., Minkina, T., and Konstantinov, A.: Human health risk assessment of potentially toxic elements (PTEs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in urban topsoils of Tyumen city, Russia, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9203, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-9203, 2021.

Valery Kalinitchenko et al.

Amelioration and remediation technology was developed comprises dispersed application and mixing of the phosphogypsum into the soil layer 20–45 cm with the intra-soil milling. The phosphogypsum doses 0, 10, 20, and 40 t ha−1 were studied in the model experiment focusing on the intra-soil passivation of Cd contained in phosphogypsum, environmental remediation, and amelioration of the Haplic Chernozem of South-European facies (Russia). The soil total and water-soluble Cd form content depend on geographical location, the ionic composition of soil solution, and soil genesis. The mean total Cd content in soils of South Russia is about 1 mg kg1 SDW. The mobility of Cd in the soil solution, as well as its penetration into the plants, depends on the content of carbonates, pH, ionic composition of the soil solution. The mathematical chemical-thermodynamic model and program ION–3 developed for the quantitative characterization of Cd thermodynamic forms in soil solution. The forms of ion in soil solution were calculated accounting the soil solution calcium-carbonate equilibrium, ionic strength,  and association of ion pairs СаСО30; CaSO40, MgCO30, MgSO40, CaHCO3+, MgHCO3+, NaCO3, NaSO4, CaOH+, MgOH+. The coefficient of microelement association kas was proposed for the calculation of the equilibrium concentration of microelement ion or heavy metal (HM) in soil solution. According to calculations, a Cd2+ ion mostly bounded to associates CdOH+, partly to associates CdCO30 and CdHCO3+. The Cd kas was 1.24 units in the control option and decreased to 0.95 units at a phosphogypsum dose 40 t ha−1. The calculated ratio of “active [Cd2+] to total Cd” reduced from 33.5% in control option to 28.0% in the option of a phosphogypsum dose 40 t ha−1.  According to calculation, the biogeochemical barrier for penetration of HMs from soil to plant roots was high after application of phosphogypsum. The standard soil environmental limitations for the content of Cd in soil overestimate the real toxicity of Cd. Re-evaluation of the current TENORM and other environmental limitations become possible. The new decision for intra-soil milling and simultaneous application of phosphogypsum was developed the chemical soil engineering technology to decide simultaneously the tasks of soil contamination decrease, soil amelioration and soil remediation. The technology based on the transcendental Biogeosystem Technique (BGT*) methodology provides environmentally safe phosphogypsum application to soil. The BGT* management of ecosphere provides health and productivity. Indirect transcendental nature-similarity of technology provides the new niche of developing capabilities addressing environmental safety concerns of ecosphere management. The technology ensures geophysical, chemical, physicochemical structural and architectural prerequisites for the stable soil evolution, environmentally safe waste recycling, the healthy soil microbiome and phytopathogen suppression, high-quality soil biological production, and human health.

The research was financially supported by the RFBR, project no. 18-29-25071, and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Russia, project no. 0852-2020-0029.

How to cite: Kalinitchenko, V., Glinushkin, A., Minkina, T., Mandzhieva, S., Sushkova, S., Il’ina, L., Makarenkov, D., Kovaleva, T., and Lobzenko, I.: Intra-soil phosphogypsum recycling for environmental safety, higher soil sustainability and productivity, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10612, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-10612, 2021.

Francesco Ciani et al.

The attention devoted to air quality is particularly important in workplaces, such as museums, where the health of visitors and workers must couple with the safeguard of collections. This especially holds for herbaria where, until the middle of the last century, the collections were protected using a solution of mercury dichloride (HgCl2) to prevent cryptogamic or animal infestations. The decomposition of HgCl2 causes the Hg reduction through a reaction pathway that is still poorly known, and the consequent release of Hg0 in the indoor atmosphere. Besides Hg0, Hg in air exists also as bound to particulate (PBM). In the museums’ atmosphere, this fraction may represent a non-negligible proportion of total atmospheric Hg and should be monitored.

This study aims to characterize the PBM in the Central Italian Herbarium of Firenze (University of Firenze, Italy), one of the largest herbaria worldwide. Here recent studies proved high levels of Hg0.

PBM sampling has been carried twice (2018 and 2020 soon after the lockdown period caused by the Covid-19), collecting the dust on a SEM-EDS stub from different surfaces (furniture, wall cornice, sample cabinet). Samples were roughly divided according to their deposition time between old (OD), almost-new (AD) and new dust (ND). The samples were analyzed using SEM-EDS to characterize the dimension and the chemical speciation of Hg particulate.

Hg-particles were detected in all the three types of dust collected in both the years: the mean dimension is 0.80±0.01 µm (3σ). The highest number of Hg-particles has been always reached in the AD, i.e. the dust collected directly on the packages containing herbarium specimens, with a strong increase in the 2020 sample. Additionally, the EDS microanalysis revealed that Hg-particles are now mainly associated with S (sometimes with O), suggesting the presence of sulphate or sulphide.

The above evidences show that PBM constitutes a fraction of Hg pollution in the Herbarium that cannot be ignored. The number of particles strongly increased in a period of low attendance of the Herbarium rooms and consequently cleaning, due to the COVID-19 pandemic: despite this, almost all are still classifiable as fine particulate (i.e. ECD< 2.5 µm) particularly harmful for human health. The presence of sulphate/sulphide indicated the change of Hg speciation with time and its reaction with S and O. These compounds, although less bioavailable than Hg0, still represent a risk for both herbarium workers and visitors.

The results of the present study offer preliminary information on the abatement system to be installed in the museum halls, which should be supplied with filters to retain very fine particles (< 1 µm).

How to cite: Ciani, F., Chiarantini, L., Costagliola, P., and Rimondi, V.: Particulate bound mercury pollution in the Central Italian Herbarium (Firenze, Italy), EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-11892, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-11892, 2021.

Viсtor Berezkin et al.

Bryansk (Russia) and Gomel (Belarus) regions were among the areas most exposed to the so-called "radioiodine impact" (131I) that occurred as a result of the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Medical examination of different groups of local population after the accident revealed a pronounced increase in thyroid cancer among children which was associated with not only 131I fallout but also with a deficiency of natural iodine in these areas [1].

The aim of the research was to study iodine in vegetation and soils of different grasslands adjacent to rural settlements in the Bryansk and Gomel regions and used by local residents for grazing. The basic original data was iodine concentration in soil and plant samples collected in the affected areas of Russia and Belarus in 44 test sites.

Soil samples were collected from upper layers 0-5, 5-10 and 10-20 cm deep with the help of the soil auger, averaged vegetation samples were taken from the plots 25x25 or 50x50 cm depending upon the vegetation density. Iodine determination was performed with the help of kinetic rhodanide-nitrite technique.

The results showed insignificant difference of iodine concentration in soil samples taken from various depth and considerable variation in the content of iodine in the upper soil layer (0-5 cm) both in the Bryansk region (0.24-1.36 mg/kg, n=29) and in the Gomel region (0.23 - 5.27 mg/kg, n=15), depending upon soil type and texture.

In the Bryansk region, the highest average iodine content was observed in gray soils characteristic for its central part (mean value 0.85±0.12 mg/kg in the top 5-cm layer). In the Gomel region, the highest iodine content was observed in meliorated peat-bog soils (5.27 mg/kg, mean value equaled to 1.02±0.42 mg/kg in the top 5-cm layer).

The iodine content in the pasture vegetation ranged from 23 µg/kg to 271 µg/kg dw. Both median and mean value of iodine concentration in vegetation of upland meadows (autonomous landscapes) were significantly lower than those in lowland meadows (57 and 113 µg/kg; 67±10 and 125±16 µg/kg correspondingly).

Accounting of considerable soil ingestion by cows we hypothesize that grazing in lowland pastures with the highest stable iodine content in soils and domination of hydrophyte plant species causes higher 127I consumption by cattle and transfer to milk. In case of contamination of the area by 131I this can lead to a relatively lower 131I transfer to milk, other conditions being equal.

The study was carried out with partial financial support by RFBR grant No. 16-55-00205 and RFBR and BRFBR, project No. 20-55-00012.


1. Cardis et al. 2005. Risk of thyroid cancer after exposure to 131I in childhood //Journal of National Cancer Institute, vol. 97, No 10, Pp. 724 – 732.


How to cite: Berezkin, V., Korobova, E., Romanov, S., and Baranchykov, V.: A study of iodine concentration in soils and grasses of pastures of Bryansk and Gomel regions affected by the Chernobyl accident, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12293, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-12293, 2021.

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