New research into air and water quality in mining regions

New research is underway to develop new guidelines to assess air and water quality in mining regions.

The University of Queensland and INCT-ACQUA, a research institute supported by three leading institutions in Brazil have collaborated to take a holistic approach to produce data to provide all-inclusive environmental and human health risk assessments in mining areas.

Project leader Associate Professor Massimo Gasparon from UQ’s School of Earth Sciences said the project would concurrently assess water, soil and air quality in the areas under investigation.

“In the recent past, environmental investigations in mining areas have focused on water and soil quality, and guidelines for environmental and human health risk assessment have been developed for these areas,” Gasparon said.

“It is becoming increasingly obvious that air quality can also be severely impacted by large-scale mining activities, and there is significant uncertainty over what should be monitored, what guidelines should be applied and how to actually assess exposure.”

He added data collected from the investigation will be incorporated with existing soil and water quality guidelines to create a detailed environmental and human health risk assessment.

“Mining companies around the world will benefit from this research as it will provide the tools and methodology for assessing the effectiveness of their existing environmental management programs, particularly with regards to their water management and dust emission monitoring and control.”

Gasparon believes the companies can use this to develop and employ strategies that will reduce environmental management costs and the environmental impact of their activities for the workforce and the public.   

UQ has joined the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and the Foundation for Research Support of the State of Minas Gerais.

The research has been funded by the Brazilian Government’s Science Without Borders Program.

The funding will also help build a wider collaboration to create a hub for research into water, soil, and air quality in partnership between UQ and institutions in the State of Minas Gerais.