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GEOCHEMICAL PROSPECTING AND ENVIRONMENTAL RISK ASSESSMENT 

 

ResearchersDott. Stefano Albanese (Responsible), Prof. Benedetto De Vivo, Prof. Annamaria Lima, Prof. Michele Arienzo, Dott. Claudia Cannatelli.

Aggregated researchers: Dott. Rosario Esposito (Assegnista), Dott. Antonio Cosenza (Contrattista), Dott. Angela Doherty (Assegnista di ricerca)
PhD students: Dott. Menghan Wang, Dott. Chengkai Qu, Dott. Carmela Rezza, Dott. Maria Clara Zuluaga, Dott. Giulia Minolfi
 
The research group is mainly concerned with the characterization of the distribution of potentially toxic metals and organic compounds in the environmental media such as soil, water, sediment, air and to a lesser extent, in biological matrices such as agricultural products and animal tissues.
One of the primary goals of the research group is the definition for metals and metalloids of natural backgrounds and baselines at regional and local scale by means of both the classical methods of mineral exploration and a GIS based geo-statistical method based on multifractal geometry.
Ecological and health risk analysisi is applied to environmental data products by developing new operating models that, starting from proven methods such as site-specific risk analysis, try to assess quantitatively, with the aid of GIS, environmental risk at the regional scale taking into account also the land use variations  of the territory and the actual distribution exposed population.
 
Environmental geochemical prospecting
The main purpose of the geochemical prospecting is the definition at regional or local scale of the distribution patterns of the concentration of elements and chemical compounds in the soil or other environmental media such as water, sediment and air.
Geochemical prospecting, originally used to investigate on the earth surface the presence in depth of economically exploitable mineral resources, is today the main tool to characterize and analyze the environmental conditions of territories with a high population density or at least, subject to strong anthropogenic pressures (agriculture, industry, transport infrastructure, mining, etc.).
One of the relevant result of a geochemical prospecting activity for environmental purposes is often a set of geochemical maps allowing, for each investigated element or chemical compound, to appreciate the changes occurring in concentrations by means of graduated dot maps or interpolated spatially continuous grids.
One of the more advanced uses of the results of the geochemical prospecting is to derive from the geochemical data produced for a given territory the concentration intervals to be taken as a reference (Background/Baseline) in the case of an environmental reclamation, by applying of classical statistical and/or geo-statistical advanced (E.g.: Multi-fractal) methods.
Specifically, the geochemical background values correspond precisely to  those values of concentration dependent exclusively on the geological nature of the environmental media, while the baseline values depend on both the geological nature of the environmental media and on the presence on the territory of historical widespread contamination source such as the pollution due to motor vehicles.
 
Fig. 1 - Interpolated map of As, Cd, Cr and Cu concentrations in the stream sediments of the the Sarno river basin in Campania region (Italy).
 
Environmental risk assessment and analysis
Environmental pollution is a crucial process that can alter the balance of an ecosystem. Often, however, knowing the concentration variations of a pollutant in an environmental media is not sufficient to define the degree of impact that the contamination process has had on the involved environment.
The presence of a source of contamination in the spatial domain of a given ecological context certainly generates the possibility of a hazard for the affected environmental compartment but is it unable to provide an estimate of the damage that actually the flora and fauna can suffer as a result of exposure to contaminants.
The environmental risk analysis is the tool that can provide a quantitative measure of the possible damage (Risk) to which an ecosystem or parts of it are subject to.
The analysis of environmental risk could be divided into two main branches:
• Ecological Risk Analysis (ERA) whose focus is the impact of a contamination process on an whole ecosystem.
• Human Health Risk Analysis (HHRA) whose focus is the effect that the presence of contaminants in the environment can have on the exposed human population.
Human Health Risk Analysis, however, it is often oriented to approach the problem at a very local scale (site-specific analysis) and tools or methodologies that allow to address the issues related to the presence of diffuse pollution on populated areas with a large extension are missing.
The development of analytical methods that allow to estimate the environmental health risks even at the municipal or supra-municipal level is one of the objectives pursued by the group of researchers of our Department focused on this research topic.
Fig. 2 - A) Distribution of the average concentration values of PAHs along the coastal belt of the Campania region. B) Distribution of the average values of the human health risk, due to PAHs in soils, expressed as Incremental Lifetime Cancer Risk (ILCR) along the coastal belt of the Campania region.
 
Collaborations:
  • Prof. Enrico Dinelli (Università di Bologna, Ravenna, Italy)
  • Dott. Paolo Valera (Università di Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy)
  • Dott. Domenico Cicchella (Università del sannio, benevento, Italy)
  • Dr H. E. Belkin, Dr R. A. Ayuso, Dr N. Foley, U. S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, USA.
  • Prof. Jose Miguel Nieto (Universidad de Huelva, Huelva, Spain)
  • Dr. Timo Tarvainen (Geological Survey of Finland, Espoo, Helsinki, Finland)
  • Dr. MartiyaSadeghi, (Geological Survey of Sweden, Uppsala, Sweden)
  • Alecos DemetriadesIGME (Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration, Athens, Greece)
  • Prof. W. Lu, Prof. Shihua Qu, (University of Geosciences, Wuhan, Hubei, China)
  • IUGS/IAGC Task Group on Global Geochemical Baselines (http://www.globalgeochemicalbaselines.eu/)
  • Eurogeosurvey Geochemistry Expert Group (http://www.eurogeosurveys.org/topics/geochemistry)
 
For further details please visit the website of the Environmental Geochemistry Lab: http://www.fluidenv.unina.it/lga.htm
 
Selected papers
1.         T. Tarvainen, M. Birke, C. Reimann, M. Poňavič, S. Albanese, 2014. 4 Arsenic Anomalies in European Agricultural and Grazing Land Soil. In: C. Reimann; M. Birke; A. Demetriades; P. Filzmoser; P.O'Connor (Eds.), Chemistry of Europe's Agricultural Soils. Part B: General Background Information and Further Analysis of the GEMAS Data Set. Schweizerbart Science Pubblishers, Stuttgart, Germany. pp. 81-88. ISBN 978-3-510-96847-3
2.         S. Albanese • B. Fontaine • W. Chen • A. Lim, C. Cannatelli • A. Piccolo • S. Qi • M. Wang, B. De Vivo, 2015. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the soils of a densely populated region and associated human health risks: the Campania Plain (Southern Italy) case study. Environmental Geochemistry and  Health, Vol. 37, pp.1–20
3.         D. Cicchella, S. Albanese, M. Birke,  B. De Vivo, W. De Vos, E. Dinelli, A. Lima,  P. J. O’Connor, I. Salpeteur, T. Tarvainen, 2014. 8 Natural Radioactive Elements Uranium, Thorium and Potassium in European Agricultural and Grazing Land Soil. In: C. Reimann; M. Birke; A. Demetriades; P. Filzmoser; P.O'Connor (Eds.), Chemistry of Europe's Agricultural Soils. Part B: General Background Information and Further Analysis of the GEMAS Data Set. Schweizerbart Science Pubblishers, Stuttgart, Germany. pp. 145-160. ISBN 978-3-510-96847-3
4.         S. Albanese, M.V.E. Taiani, B. De Vivo, A. Lima (2013). An environmental epidemiological study based on the stream sediment geochemistry of the Salerno province (Campania region, Southern Italy). JOURNAL OF GEOCHEMICAL EXPLORATION, vol. 131, pp. 59-66, ISSN: 0375-6742, doi: 10.1016/j.gexplo.2013.04.002
5.         D.  Cicchella,  L. Giaccio, A. Lima,  S. Albanese, A. Cosenza, D. Civitillo, B. De Vivo (2013). Assessment of the topsoil heavy metals pollution in the Sarno River basin, south Italy. ENVIRONMENTAL EARTH SCIENCES. doi: 10.1007/s12665-013-2916-8. ISSN: 1866-629
6.         T. Tarvainen, S. Albanese, M. Birke, M. Poňavič, C. Reimann, M. Andersson, A. Arnoldussen, R. Baritz, M.J. Batista, A. Bel-lan, D. Cicchella, A. Demetriades, B. De Vivo, E. Dinelli, W. De Vos, M. Duris, A. Dusza-Dobek, O.A. Eggen, M. Eklund, V. Ernstsen, P. Filzmoser, T.E. Finne, D. Flight, S. Forrester, M. Fuchs, U. Fugedi, A. Gilucis, M. Gosar, V. Gregorauskiene, A. Gulan, J. Halamić, E. Haslinger, P. Hayoz, G. Hobiger, R. Hoffmann, J. Hoogewerff, H. Hrvatovic, S. Husnjak, L. Janik, C.C. Johnson, G. Jordan, J. Kirby, J. Kivisilla, V. Klos, F. Krone, P. Kwecko, L. Kuti, A. Ladenberger, A. Lima, J. Locutura, P. Lucivjansky, D. Mackovych, B.I. Malyuk, R. Maquil, M.J. McLaughlin, R.G. Meuli, N. Miosic, G. Mol, P. Négrel, P. O’Connor, K. Oorts, R.T. Ottesen, A. Pasieczna, V. Petersell, S. Pfleiderer, C. Prazeres, U. Rauch,. Salpeteur, A. Schedl, A. Scheib, I. Schoeters, P. Sefcik, E. Sellersjö, F. Skopljak, I. Slaninka, A. Šorša, R. Srvkota, T. Stafilov, V. Trendavilov, P. Valera, V. Verougstraete, D. Vidojević, A.M. Zissimos, Z. Zomeni. (2013). Arsenic in agricultural and grazing land soils of Europe. APPLIED GEOCHEMISTRY, vol. 28, pp. 2-10, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2012.10.005, ISSN: 0883-2927
7.         Albanese S., Iavazzo P., Adamo P., Lima A., De Vivo B. (2013). Assessment of the environmental conditions of the Sarno river basin (south Italy): a stream sediment approach. ENVIRONMENTAL GEOCHEMISTRY AND HEALTH, vol. 35, pp. 283-297, doi: 10.1007/s10653-012-9483-x, ISSN: 0269-4042
8.         M. Sadeghi, P. Petrosino, A. Ladengberger, S. Albanese, M. Andersson, G. Morris, A. Lima, B. De Vivo, A. Arnoldussen, R. Baritz, M.J. Batista, A. Bel-lan,M. Birke, D. Cicchella, A. Demetriades, E. Dinelli, W. De Vos, M. Duris, A. Dusza-Dobek, O.A. Eggen, M. Eklund, V. Ernstsen, P. Filzmoser, T.E. Finne,D. Flight, S. Forrester, M. Fuchs, U. Fugedi, A. Gilucis, M. Gosar, V. Gregorauskiene, A. Gulan, J. Halamić, E. Haslinger, P. Hayoz, G. Hobiger, R. Hoffmann, J. Hoogewerff, H. Hrvatovic, S. Husnjak, L. Janik, C.C. Johnson, G.Jordan, J. Kirby, J. Kivisilla, V. Klos, F. Krone, P. Kwecko, L. Kuti, J. Locutura, P. Lucivjansky, D. Mackovych, B.I. Malyuk, R.Maquil, M. McLaughlin, R.G. Meuli, N. Miosic, G. Mol, P. Négrel, P. O'Connor, K. Oorts,R.T. Ottesen, A. Pasieczna, V. Petersell, S. Pfleiderer, M. Poňavič, C. Prazeres, U. Rauch, C. Reimann, I. Salpeteur, A. Schedl, A. Scheib, I. Schoeters, P. Sefcik, E. Sellersjö, F. Skopljak, I. Slaninka, A. Šorša, R. Srvkota, T. Stafilov, T. Tarvainen, V. Trendavilov, P. Valera, V. Verougstraete, D. Vidojević, A.M. Zissimos, Z. Zomeni (2013). Ce, La and Y concentrations in agricultural and grazing-land soils of Europe. JOURNAL OF GEOCHEMICAL EXPLORATION, vol. 133, pp. 202-213, doi: 10.1016/j.gexplo.2012.12.007, ISSN: 0375-6742
9.         M. Wang, B. De Vivo, S. Albanese, A. Lima, W. Lu, F. Molisso, M. Sacchi (2013). Investigation on Inorganic Pollution Level in Surface Sediments of Naples and Salerno Bay. COMPUTATIONAL WATER ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING, vol. 2, pp. 36-40, doi: 10.4236/cweee.2013.22B006, ISSN: 2168-1562
10.       E. Dinelli, A. Lima, S. Albanese, M. Birke, D. Cicchella, L. Giaccio, P. Valera, B. De Vivo (2012). Comparative study between bottled mineral and tap water in Italy. JOURNAL OF GEOCHEMICAL EXPLORATION, vol. 112, pp. 368-389, doi: 10.1016/j.gexplo.2011.11.002, ISSN: 0375-6742
10.       A. Lima, L. Giaccio, D. Cicchella, S. Albanese, M. Bove, G. Grezzi, R.A. Ayuso, B. De Vivo (2012). Atlante geochimico-ambientale del S.I.N. (Sito di interesse nazionale) litorale Domitio-Flegreo e Agro Aversano/Geochemical Environmental Atlas of S.I.N Domitio-Flegreo littoral and Agro Aversano. Aracne Editrice, Roma, 258 pp. ISBN: 978-8854851481
11.       Albanese S.,  Cicchella D. (2012). Legacy Problems in Urban Geochemistry. ELEMENTS, vol. 8 , pp. 423-428, doi: 10.2113/gselements.8.6.423, ISSN: 1811-5209
12.       E. Dinelli, A. Lima, S. Albanese, M. Birke, D. Cicchella, L. Giaccio, P. Valera, B. De Vivo (2012). Major and trace elements in tap water from Italy. JOURNAL OF GEOCHEMICAL EXPLORATION, vol. 112, pp. 54-75, doi: 10.1016/j.gexplo.2011.07.009, ISSN: 0375-6742
13.       S. Albanese, N. Breward, 2011. Sources of anthropogenic contaminants in the urban environment. In: Mapping the Chemical Environment of Urban Areas. Johnson C.C., Demetriades, A., Locutura, J. and Ottesen, R.T. (Editors). John Wiley Publishers, Chichester, UK, pp .116-127. ISBN 978-0-470-74724-7.
14.       Bove M.A., Ayuso R.A., De Vivo B., Lima A., Albanese S. (2011). Geochemical and isotopic study of soils and waters from an Italian contaminated site: Agro Aversano (Campania). JOURNAL OF GEOCHEMICAL EXPLORATION, vol. 109, pp. 38-50, doi: 10.1016/j.gexplo.2010.09.013, ISSN: 0375-6742
16.       Grezzi G., Ayuso R.A., De Vivo B., Lima A., Albanese S. (2011). Lead isotopes in soils and groundwaters as tracers of the impact of human activities on the surface environment: the Domizio-Flegreo Littoral (Italy) case study. JOURNAL OF GEOCHEMICAL EXPLORATION, vol. 109, p. 51-58, doi: 10.1016/j.gexplo.2010.09.12, ISSN: 0375-6742
16.       Lima, A., Albanese, S., Cicchella, D., 2005. Geochemical baselines for the radioelements K, U, and Th in the Campania region, Italy: A comparison of stream-sediment geochemistry and gamma-ray surveys. Applied Geochemistry, 20 (3), pp. 611-625.
17.       Lima, A., De Vivo, B., Cicchella, D., Cortini, M., Albanese, S., 2003. Multifractal IDW interpolation and fractal filtering method in environmental studies: An application on regional stream sediments of (Italy), Campania region. Applied Geochemistry, 18 (12), pp. 1853-1865.