Archive for Depuration

Southern Research Institute is a nonprofit 501(c) 3 scientific research organization that conducts preclinical drug discovery and development and advanced engineering research in materials, systems development, environment and energy. Their more than 600 scientific and engineering team members support clients and partners in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, defense, aerospace, environmental and energy industries. Southern Research is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., with facilities also located in Wilsonville, Ala., Anniston, Ala., Frederick, Md., and Durham, NC. For more information about Southern Research and its capabilities and accomplishments, visit

Led by Dr. Derek Eggert, Southern Research will now begin developing approaches to remediate problematic constituents contained in commercial and industrial effluents

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., May 11 — Southern Research Institute today announced that it is adding a new research capability focusing on the remediation of problematic constituents in water and wastewater sources. Environmental toxicologist Derek Eggert, Ph.D. will lead the new program that is located on Southern Research’s main campus in Birmingham.

“We are very pleased that Dr. Eggert has joined Southern Research, enabling us to expand our environmental services to industry,” said Michael D. Johns, vice-president of Engineering at Southern Research. “The remediation of industrial water is important to the quality of our water systems. Because of Derek’s expertise, Southern Research can now help develop environmentally and economically sound solutions to treat those problems.”

By creating the Water and Wastewater Treatment team, Southern Research will help remediate contaminants — such as arsenic, mercury, selenium, aluminum, copper, lead, zinc and oil and grease — from various waste streams in order to reuse or discharge into a local waterway.

Before joining Southern Research, Dr. Eggert was a research assistant in Environmental Toxicology at Clemson University. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina and his Master’s degree and Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from Clemson University. He is a member of The Wildlife Society, Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and Sigma Xi.

Rhonda Jung, 205-337-9634

A Department of Science and Technology (DoST) Balik Scientist recipient has proposed the establishment of a multidisciplinary research group to focus on the uses of phytoremediation in the country following his study on the capability of indigenous plants to rid soil pollution in mining areas.

Dr. Augustine Doronila, a senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne in Australia, said it is worth studying the various aspects of phytoremediation, which uses living plants to mop up pollution in the environment like metal contaminants in the soil, and restores ecological balance in a mining area.

DOST’s Balik Scientist Program started in 1975 under which Filipino scientists abroad are encouraged to return to the country and conduct trainings, seminars, lectures, projects and evaluation for the benefit of the Filipino scientific community.

Last year, a total of 38 Balik Scientists heeded the call and came back to their native country.
Doronila proposed the establishment of the research group, to be called the Philippine Metalophyte Research Consortium, to be based in the Ateneo de Manila University with a mission of determining the botanical, chemistry, biological, geological, ecological, and anthropological aspects of implementing phytoremediation.

According to Doronila, there are endemic plant species in the country that can help restore mine-damaged soils. His research on phytoremediation revealed that it can “help clean tainted environment.”

Doronila discovered a possible new nickel hyper accumulator that belongs to the Euphorbiacea family during a recent visit to Zambales.

“Tropical hyper accumulator plants are most likely found on ultramafic or serpentine rock formations,”
he said, explaining that ultramafic soils often contain high concentrations of magnesium and some toxic metals.

Wastes from mining activities, particularly the extraction and processing of mineral resources, are laden with heavy metals and chemicals that can seriously contaminate soil and water. Exposure to these contaminants affects people’s health and livelihood.

“Once the soil is restored, earnings can go up as high as P165,000 net per hectare,” Doronila said, basing his figures in an actual phytoremediated base-metal smelter in South Africa.

The Philippines is one of the world’s biggest producers of copper, nickel, chrome, zinc, gold and silver. The mining industry contributed an estimated $1.4 billion in the gross domestic product (GDP) last year.


Cleaning up the dangerous contaminants — dry-cleaning fluids, solvents and petroleum hydrocarbons — found in underground water presents one of the most urgent challenges facing environmental science. A report issued January 30 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sheds light on a new way to monitor and improve the success of clean-up efforts using a technique developed at the University of Toronto.

“The most common method to clean-up groundwater is biodegradation — using microbes to consume the contaminants and break them down into more benign end products that are not harmful to the environment,” says U of T geochemist Barbara Sherwood Lollar, the scientist who initiated the concept and goals for the EPA report and is one of its five international authors.

The report outlines how this can be done using a novel technique called Compound Specific Isotope Analysis, developed in U of T’s Stable Isotope Laboratory. The elements of carbon that form the basis for the hydrocarbon contaminants actually come in two types called isotopes, explains Sherwood Lollar. “When microbes degrade contaminants, they prefer the lighter isotope carbon 12 over the heavier isotope carbon 13. The resulting change in the ratio of these isotopes in the contaminant itself is a dramatic and definitive indicator that the biodegradation is successfully taking place.”

Beginning in the 1990s, U of T’s Stable Isotope Laboratory has been an international pioneer in discovering how different carbon isotopes can be used to identify whether or not biodegradation is taking place. “Today, dozens of students in Canada have been trained in this method, drawn in by the fascinating combination of fundamental research that has important applications such as the clean-up of drinking water,” says Sherwood Lollar. Over the past decade, as the new technique has become more widespread, centres for research and education —- and even private companies — have blossomed worldwide.

“Much of the research on new methods of analyzing groundwater contamination has been published in scientific and professional journals but this report — written specifically for the practitioners in accessible language with clear procedural information and decision-making strategies — is a milestone,” says Sherwood Lollar.

“It is particularly gratifying to be able to take a technique out of the lab and to put it into the hands of the people working on this issue every day around the world,” she says.

The report can be found on the EPA website. It was funded by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria, the EPA and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

University of Toronto. “New Way To Monitor And Improve Clean-up Of Contaminated Groundwater.” ScienceDaily 1 February 2009. 3 February 2009 <­ /releases/2009/01/090130093405.htm>