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Toxic Metal Pollution in Georgia

#G-1870


Studying Landscape Pollution and Development of Scientifically Sound Methods for Producing Ecologically Clean Agricultural Products

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-EHS/Environmental Health and Safety/Environment

Status
3 Approved without Funding

Registration date
09.08.2010

Leading Institute
Georgian Technical University, Georgia, Tbilisi

Collaborators

  • OstWestTransfer e.K., Germany, Regis-Breitingen\nInterenvironment Ltd., Canada, ON, Toronto\nAgrecom Inc., Canada, Ontario

Project summary

In the framework of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) during recent years many countries have executed and have underway projects related to the ecological monitoring of the environment and identification of correlation between environment conditions and state of the population health. By now priority ecological problems have been identified, including pollution of agricultural lands by toxic metals.

The role of toxic microelements in metabolic processes of plant and animal organisms, as well as their influence on health condition has been reasonably studied. For Georgia, with its landscape differentiation and natural-ecological persity, study of the pollution level of agricultural lands and cultivated products is especially important.

Generally the sources of such pollution are mining complexes and plant facilities, most of which are located in the regions of intensive farming. Additionally presence of heavy metals in the soil could be explained by natural processes of rocks` flushing and airing.

This could be illustrated by the data of the researches of solid silts accumulated in artificial water basins of Georgia brought there by surface waters and air masses from neighboring mountain ranges. It was found that the solid silts comprise from various amounts of ferrous, non-ferrous, rare and noble metals, including Hg, As, Pb, Zn, Cu, Mn, Mo etc. and their sources are rivers and open-cast minings of mountain ranges. The data of Geological-Reconnaissance works show that above mentioned toxic metals are found in flood-plain and terraced river detritus, where agricultural products are cultivated and pastures are located on alluvium soils. Chemical agents that pollute the environment could have reasonable influence on human health condition and cause irreversible diseases.

The aim of the present project is to gain comprehensive information on the condition of the environmental components – air, water, soil, plants and agricultural products; to identify the sources and pathways of pollution by toxic metals (Zn, Cd, Pb, Cu, As and Mn), and to study morbidity in the population of the given regions.

Considering differences in the influence of the toxic elements and variations of their concentration in different environments, it is important to study their combined action on the organism.

The research will be conducted in 4 regions of Georgia under the highest risk, where agricultural and industrial sectors, mostly mining and enrichment productions are developed. In order to obtain reliable information on the environmental condition, ongoing natural and anthropogenic processes having impact on it at the regions - physico-chemical experimental works will be performed for each region separately. Differences in natural and landscape conditions require using of specific methodological approaches for each given study case. It is planned to use regional, component and sectional principles of the research by use of scientifically sound conventional methods and modern technical facilities. Obtained results of analytical, field, laboratory and experimental works will enable development of practical methods for the human health risk reduction. Consequently, recommendations for the local authorities, healthcare organizations, producers of agro-industrial products will be developed for the implementation of the developed methods that is the main practical result of the project for the commercialization. Results of the present researches could be interesting and useful for the Germany – Saxony lands, where agro-industrial facilities are deployed and where the similar problems with arsenic and heavy metals pollution are present.

It should be mentioned that content of separate toxic elements, for instance arsenic, lead, manganese, copper in water and various agricultural products and their influence on living organisms have been studied, but it will be the first time, when effects of toxic metals` complex (Pb, Cd, As, Mn, Cu, Zn), present in the environment and food products, will be studied on experimental animals and correlation with population health will be identified.

Project participants have relevant and required experiences and competencies, reasoned by their past experiences, as well as successfully completed ISTC projects G- 945.2 и G- 539.

The role of foreign collaborators mostly depends on the aims of collaboration and coincidence of their scientific interests with the tasks set by the projects, that would promote regular exchange of the opinions during setting and execution of the works.


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