Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - AQUATRAIN (Geogenic chemicals in groundwaters and soils: a research training network)

The core theme of AQUATRAIN MRTN has been training young researchers in the multidisciplinary aspects of hazardous naturally occurring chemicals in groundwater and soils. Arsenic and selenium are examples of such so-called geo-genic chemicals. In many parts of the world, particularly Asia, the use of arsenic-bearing groundwater for drinking and irrigation has had devastating human health impacts. Understanding the chemical nature, distribution/origin of this arsenic and how humans are exposed is therefore of the utmost importance as is the development of remediation technologies and effective science-based policy.

These areas comprise the 4 major work package themes of AQUATRAIN, viz. (1) chemical speciation; (2) distribution (3) remediation; and (4) exposure routes and implications for policy. Over 500 months of research training was provided to 20 young researchers, mostly from within the European Union, but also to researchers attracted to Europe from abroad. In addition to supervision, equipment access and support normally given to young researchers, they have received training through: (i) participation in 8 network-wide workshops with both technical & generic skills training; (ii) research exchange visits; (iii) access to a wide network of leading scientists in relevant disciplines. Researchers have benefitted and experienced the challenges of working in at least 2 different Partner institutions in different EU countries. They have received a strong base upon which to build productive and socially useful careers in the environmental and/or research sectors.

Research highlights include:
(i) New methods for trapping volatile arsenic and selenium species. (ii)
Quantification of the contribution of arsenic volatilization from rice paddy fields to the global cycling of arsenic.
(iii) Development of a reactive transport model for arsenic useable to reconstruct historical emissions of arsenic (and other pollutants) in sediment cores.
(iv) Development of predictive models for arsenic hazard in groundwater.
(v) Research underpinning models predicting long-term human-driven increases in groundwater arsenic in southern Asia.
(vi) Development of remediation technologies for groundwater.
(vii) Demonstration of exposure to humans from arsenic-in-rice.
(viii) Identification of critical issues in the governance of groundwater usage.

The highlights of research training methodologies have included:
(i) Team Building Weekend.
(ii) Subject-focussed short-sharp workshops.
(iii) Integration with major international.
(iv) Appointment of Researchers as coordinators for technical reports, giving them experience of project management and coordination.
(v) Researcher-organised field camps.
(vi) Researcher co-coordinated Romanian Drilling Project.
(vii) Appointment of Researchers as Co-Leaders for each Work Package.

One month after the end of the project period, 12 full peer-reviewed scientific papers co-authored by AQUATRAIN Fellows had been published, with perhaps two to three times this number anticipated in the next year or two. Network participants as whole have contributed over 100 published papers (including several in Nature Geoscience) and 150 conference presentations either directly or indirectly arising from Network activities. Lead Scientists and Fellows have been active also in media releases, organising conferences and workshops and editing leading journals to promote knowledge transfer and exchange of best practice. There has been considerable interaction with other groups, both within the EU and elsewhere, notably PR China, SE Asia, India and USA. We look forward to developments arising from these collaborations and from the career progressions of the Network Fellows. Lastly, the impact of the Network and other groups is already manifest in the re-appraisal of arsenic-in-food regulations by various groups in both European Union and elsewhere - this is one of several areas where Network science may inform policy.

Reported by

United Kingdom
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