BGS partner with Arcadis in £70 000 research programme to support brownfield development
New research will explore microorganisms with the potential to breakdown hazardous chemicals in the environment.15/10/2020 By BGS Press
New research will explore microorganisms with the potential to breakdown hazardous chemicals in the environment.
The British Geological Survey (BGS) will take part in a novel £70 000 research programme to support the clean up of brownfield sites using natural biological processes, in partnership with Arcadis, a leading global design and consultancy organisation for natural and built assets.
The research will be used to understand and evaluate how microorganisms naturally present in contaminated soil and groundwater can be used to bioremediate the chemical 1,4-dioxane, an emerging contaminant that is increasingly detected in groundwater and recognised as a potential risk to human health and the environment around the world.
The project is being funded by the Environmental Biotechnology Network (EBNet), with a contribution from Arcadis, and is expected to take around twelve months to complete.
We need to better understand the wide range of legacy chemicals present in post-industrial brownfield land. Many of these emerging contaminants have either previously not been looked for or detected, but they are hazardous to people and to the environment.
The more we understand them, the better we can make decisions about how to remove them from post-industrial land to make sites safe and suitable for redevelopment.
BGS microbiologist Simon Gregory.
Reported health problems from short-term exposure to 1,4-dioxane include breathing problems, vertigo, drowsiness, headaches and skin irritation. Long-term exposure can lead to kidney and liver damage, and can even be fatal.
Due to its high solubility and low degradability under some conditions, 1,4-dioxane can be a challenge to remove from soil and groundwater. However, it is known that it can be degraded by soil microorganisms possessing some types of monooxygenase enzymes, a family of enzymes that can help to breakdown a wide range of chemicals including many organic pollutants.
Dr Monica Heintz, a geoscientist at Arcadis specialising in natural attenuation and bioremediation, said: ‘While biodegradation of 1,4-dioxane has been demonstrated, the microorganisms responsible for this process remain under-characterised. This research will increase our understanding of microorganisms responsible for 1,4-dioxane biodegradation and will lead to genetic surveys that can be used to assess biodegradation of 1,4-Ddoxane at sites around the world.’
BGS and Arcadis will gather information using a range of DNA-based techniques to quantify and explore the diversity of organisms that produce monooxygenase enzymes in contaminated sites and understand which enzymes are most effective at biodegradation.
This approach to characterising natural attenuation mechanisms will allow confidence in the ability of microorganisms to detoxify 1,4-dioxane and provide a sustainable, cost-effective management solution for brownfield stakeholders.
Dr Ian Ross, Senior Technical Director at Arcadis UK.
For further information please contact:
Call: +44 (0)7790 607 010.
(Please do not text this number. We accept calls or email only.)
- A brownfield site is an area that has been used before and is typically disused or derelict Such sites are usually abandoned areas in towns and cities that have been used previously for industrial and commercial purposes.
- Historical industrial processes often produced harmful byproducts, residues and wastes that were poorly managed. The chemicals contained in these legacy materials can threaten human health and the environment.
- Examples of land uses highly likely to have resulted in contamination include chemical works, landfill sites and textile mills.
- Funding for the project is being awarded by the Environmental Biotechnology Network (EBNet), one of 6 Phase II networks in industrial biotechnology and bioenergy funded primarily by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) with additional funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
British Geological Survey
The British Geological Survey (BGS) is a world-leading applied geoscience research centre that is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and affiliated to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). BGS core science provides objective and authoritative geoscientific data, information and knowledge to inform UK Government on the opportunities and challenges of the subsurface. It undertakes national and public good research to understand earth and environmental processes in the UK and globally. Please see www.bgs.ac.uk
Arcadis is the leading global design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets. Applying our deep market sector insights and collective design, consultancy, engineering, project and management services, we work in partnership with our clients to deliver exceptional and sustainable outcomes throughout the lifecycle of their natural and built assets. We are 28 000 people, active in over 70 countries, that generate €3.5 billion in revenues. We support UN-Habitat with knowledge and expertise to improve the quality of life in rapidly growing cities around the world. Please see www.arcadis.com/en/global/
Dr Marie Cowan awarded the Energy Group Medal by the Geological Society
This award is presented annually to individuals with a geoscience background who have made an outstanding contribution to the energy industry
BGS appoints new members to Science Advisory Committee
Four new members’ three-year terms begin in June 2023.
AGS file utilities tool: production release
BGS’s online tool for validating AGS files against the official AGS data format rules and its own NGDC data submission requirements goes live.
BGS releases 10K maps through updated maps portal
BGS releases an updated maps portal, which allows users to view all publicly available, maps and includes 10 000 and 1:10 560 scale maps for the first time.
BGS maps out priorities with five-year strategy
BGS publishes its new strategy for 2023 to 2028, ‘Understanding our Earth’.
Improvements to borehole delivery
BGS releases improvements to its borehole layer on the GeoIndex, which makes access faster and improves quality.
Report identifies areas of the UK prospective for critical raw materials
Areas from the Highlands to south-west England have the right geology to be prospective for several critical raw materials such as lithium and graphite, according to a new report.
World Mineral Production 2017 to 2021 is now available
The latest edition of World Mineral Production has been released.
How does public water use influence the amount of phosphorus in the environment?
New research looks at how phosphorus accumulates in public water systems in the USA.
Scientists discover regions of the UK with greatest potential to use heat from deep thermal waters
BGS geologists have mapped the UK’s potential to use heat from thermal groundwater deep beneath central and southern Britain.
BGS laboratories become first in UKRI to receive gold LEAF accreditation
BGS achieved gold certification in the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) accreditation in March 2023.
World Water Day 2023: groundwater photo stories
A showcase of groundwater use from around the world highlighting how developing groundwater has benefited the lives of many people.