Ecology of Industrial Pollution (Freshwaters and Land)
Passive Treatment Technologies
Current / Recent Research
Miner-Farmer landscapes of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Funded by English Heritage
A collaborative project with Birmingham Archaeology
GIS-based remote-sensing and environmental research’ combines a range of remote sensing techniques in order to research the application of remote datasets for the identification of moorland industrial activity and the relationship with the natural environment and erosion, including the gathering of environmental data. The aim of this project is to evaluate the past, present and future impacts of historical industrial activity on Alston Moor including the analysis of peat erosion. Specifically, this project will use a combination of remote sensing techniques and ground-truthing in order to:
Record areas of archaeology, and particularly remains relating to industrial activity (including the impacts of industrial activity such as contamination) as identified through remote sensing techniques
Record and assess the past, present and future impacts of historical industrial activity on the landscape, specifically in relation to contamination (identified through a combination of remote sensing techniques and soil sampling)
Record and assess the impact of peat erosion and other erosion (especially water erosion) on the present and future preservation of the archaeological resource in relation to the future management of this landscape
To assess the efficacy of novel remote-sensing techniques for the interpretation and management of this and similar landscapes
Hence the project is aimed at providing information towards the formulation of a management plan for the North Pennines region, and for the generation of a useful toolkit for application within similar landscapes elsewhere. These aims will be achieved through:
The investigation of current sources of satellite data, aerial imagery and the analysis of LIDAR data for the identification of past industrial activity and its relationship to areas of peat erosion and land improvement. The survey area will cover 32 square kilometres of the Alston Moor area
The analysis of multi- and hyper-spectral data of the same sample area as above providing a comparison of the different techniques for identification of industrial remains.
A programme of borehole excavation and soil analyses to assess for mining debris and contamination in the sample area. The results will provide validation of non-invasive interpretations and will complement the above, providing baseline data for the application of these techniques elsewhere.
Phytoremediation of organic pollutants in brownfield sites
PhD studentship Sponsored by CL:AIRE and English Partnerships
Student: Colette Dolan
The increase for land, particularly for new housing in the UK as led to increased re-use of land that previously supported industry and thus may be classed as contaminated. The types of contaminants present in brownfield sites can be extremely varied and one site may contain a number of different contaminants. This provides a challenge to remediation both in terms of techniques and costs. Many of these sites have been disused for many years and the original polluter either cannot be traced or may be insolvent leading to what is termed ‘orphan sites’. Thus the need for a relatively low cost remediation technique that can remove or immobilise several contaminants is a priority and phytoremediation (the use of plants to remediate soil, sludge and water) is a possible solution. The rhizospheric microbial community is often key to remediation processes and plant-microbial actions are vital as it has been shown that an increase in plant diversity results in increased microbial diversity and function). The potential therefore for increasing their activity through the manipulation of the plant community is an attractive possibility and may help to improve the efficiency of the technology to a point where it becomes a viable proposition.
This PhD project will use laboratory, field and desktop methods to determine whether phytoremediation of organic pollutants is economically viable for small brownfield sites. Individual and combinations of plant species will be investigated in terms of their ability to break down and/or remove single and multiple organic pollutants. The relationship between plant diversity and rhizospheric microbial populations and their function will also be elucidated. Results from these laboratory based experiment will then be used to specify plant populations to test on sites within the UK during the PhD.
Impact of mine waters and their treatment systems on aquatic communities
PhD studentship sponsored by GEES and Environment Agency Wales
Student: Montserrat Auladell
The release of contaminated waters from abandoned mines is becoming one the most important water quality issues throughout the world. These waters represent a particularly difficult problem due to the multi-contaminant nature of the pollution. Over recent years constructed wetlands have been used to treat many of these discharges, but assessment of their success has largely been based upon chemical parameters. Biological communities, and macroinvertebrates in particular can be used to monitor pollution. However there have been limited studies of the responses of these organisms to mine water pollution and subsequent changes in communities following installation of treatment systems.
This project seeks to determine the effect of mine water discharges upon river communities and whether the provision of treatment schemes improves the ecological status of receiving water courses. The impacts of the treatment schemes upon the physiology of, and metal accumulation within the wetland invertebrate communities will also be examined to determine potential environmental risks.
Identification of the sub-lethal response of Ranunculus penicillatus subsp. pseudofluitans var. pseudofluitans to environmental stresses using a metabolomic approach
NERC NBAF Award 2011
The aquatic macrophyte R. pseudofluitans is a keystone species in Chalk Rivers but there has been widespread decline of these plant stands, caused by low flows (abstraction) and/or nutrient enrichment. Little is known about the effect of these stressors on Ranunculus physiology and functioning.
Experiments will be undertaken in replicate artificial streams to test the growth response of Ranunculus to stresses, and a metabolomics approach will allow us to investigate the sub-lethal responses prior to measurable die-back of the plants. The results will provide a better understanding of thresholds of stress to inform management of priority species and habitats.
Key Publications since 2005
Batty, L.C., Dolan, C. (in press) The potential use of phytoremediation for sites with mixed organic and inorganic contamination. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology
Gubbins, E., Batty, L.C., Lead, J.R. 2011 Phytotoxicity of silver nanoparticles to Lemna minor L. Environmental Pollution 159, 1551-1559
Batty, L.C., Hallberg, K. And Jarvis, A.P. 2010 Ecology of Industrial Pollution: restoration, remediation and preservation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Mayes, W.M., Batty, L.C., Younger, P.L., Jarvis, A.P., Koiv, M.,Vohla, C., Mander, U. 2009 Wetland treatment at extremes of pH: a review. Science of the Total Environment 407, 3944-3957
Batty, L.C. & Anslow, M. 2008 The effect of a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon on the phytoremediation of zinc by two plant species (Brassica juncea and Festuca arundinacea). International Journal of Phytoremediation 10, 236-251
Batty, L.C., Hooley, D.P. & Younger, P.L. 2008 Iron and manganese removal in wetland treatment systems: rates, processes and implications for management. Science of the Total Environment 394, 1-8
Harrad, S.J., Batty, L.C., Diamond, M. and Arhonditsis, G. 2008. Student projects in Environmental Science. Wiley Publishers, Chichester
Batty, L.C. & Younger, P.L. 2007 The effect of pH and plant litter decomposition and metal cycling in wetland mesocosms supplied with mine drainage. Chemosphere. 66: 158-164
Batty, L.C., Baker, A.J.M. & Wheeler, B.D. 2006 The effect of vegetation on pore water composition in a natural wetland receiving acid mine drainage. Wetlands, 26: 40-48
Batty, L.C., Atkin, L. & Manning, D. 2005 Assessment of the ecological potential of mine water treatment wetlands using a baseline survey of macroinvertebrate communities Environmental Pollution, 138: 413-420
Batty, L.C. 2005. The Potential Importance of Mine Sites for Biodiversity. Mine Water and the Environment, 24 (2): 101-103