Medical geology in the framework of the sustainable development goals

Jochen Bundschuh, Jyoti Prakash Maity, Shahbaz Mushtaq, Meththika Vithanage, Saman Seneweera, Jerusa Schneider, Prosun Bhattacharya, Nasreen Islam Khan, Ihsan Hamawand, Luiz R.G. Guilherme, Kathryn Reardon-Smith, Faruque Parvez, Nury Morales-Simfors, Sara Ghaze, Christa Pudmenzky, Louis Kouadio, Chien Yen Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Exposure to geogenic contaminants (GCs) such as metal(loid)s, radioactive metals and isotopes as well as transuraniums occurring naturally in geogenic sources (rocks, minerals) can negatively impact on environmental and human health. The GCs are released into the environment by natural biogeochemical processes within the near-surface environments and/or by anthropogenic activities such as mining and hydrocarbon exploitation as well as exploitation of geothermal resources. They can contaminate soil, water, air and biota and subsequently enter the food chain with often serious health impacts which are mostly underestimated and poorly recognized. Global population explosion and economic growth and the associated increase in demand for water, energy, food, and mineral resources result in accelerated release of GCs globally. The emerging science of “medical geology” assesses the complex relationships between geo-environmental factors and their impacts on humans and environments and is related to the majority of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations for Sustainable Development. In this paper, we identify multiple lines of evidence for the role of GCs in the incidence of diseases with as yet unknown etiology (causation). Integrated medical geology promises a more holistic understanding of the occurrence, mobility, bioavailability, bio-accessibility, exposure and transfer mechanisms of GCs to the food-chain and humans, and the related ecotoxicological impacts and health effects. Scientific evidence based on this approach will support adaptive solutions for prevention, preparedness and response regarding human and environmental health impacts originating from exposure to GCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-104
Number of pages18
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume581-582
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes

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