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Dynamic Sensing of Chemical Pollution Disasters and Predictive Modelling of Their Spread and Ecological Impact

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Managing the impact of chemical pollution

The ability to manage pollution disasters and their related impact was the focus of an EU-funded project. Work resulted in sensor technologies and a user-friendly crisis management guide, among other achievements.

Climate Change and Environment

The 'Dynamic sensing of chemical pollution disasters and predictive modelling of their spread and ecological impact' (Ecodis) project developed sensor technologies for the monitoring of physicochemical reactivity and biological impact of organic and inorganic pollutant species in aquatic systems. Project partners applied these technologies to studies of the short- and long-term chemical and biological status of aquatic ecosystems following a pollution disaster. An integrated approach comprising four closely interlinked and interdependent sections was used to tackle project objectives. The first involved developing dynamic sensor technologies for pollutant speciation analysis and ecotoxicological effects. These were characterised and dedicated to speciation analysis of organic and metal pollutants under disaster conditions. Work on determining the dynamic bioavailability and toxicological effects of pollutant species made up the second section. Here, studies on bio-uptake were carried out, and physiology-based bio-kinetic models were developed for estimating bioaccumulation potential in various types of biological tissue. Activities falling under the third section resulted in a model of the temporal spread of pollutants and risks in aquatic ecosystems at the catchment scale. The fourth section involved the measurement and management of disaster-site data and the development of dynamic risk assessment. Ecodis results offered fundamental scientific knowledge, technology for in situ monitoring and a user-friendly guide for crisis managers. Sensors and in situ probes developed by the team can measure changes in concentrations of pollutant species under disaster conditions, while developed models offer important descriptions of pollutant spread in a body of water following disaster impact. As such, the project’s generally innovative approach and the theoretical concepts advanced can also facilitate action taken in the immediate wake of a potentially disastrous pollution event.

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Climate Change and Environment

2 April 2014