International Journal of Environmental Engineering
Author(s) : DOMENICO VITO
Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are a subset of environmental contaminants that can produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. EDCs have been reported to have a ubiquitous presence in the environment and in particular aquatic ecosystems. Many EDCs, in fact are not completely removed with conventional wastewater treatment systems. Due to their harmfulness and ubiquity, since the 1990’s a number of countries, multinational governments such as the European Union and inter-government organizations (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD) have initiated or amended programs to integrate EDCs into current strategies to assess chemical safety. These programs has been mainly focused on regulate exposure to EDCs, neglecting the issues about monitoring. Conventional water monitoring processes involves the collection of water samples that only provide snapshots of the situation at the sampling site and time, rather than information on spatiotemporal variations in water characteristics. Biosensors indeed, - defined by IUPAC as a “self-contained integrated device that is capable of providing specific analytical information using a biological recognition element” - offer the possibility for a faster and timely measurement for pollutants in water. Biosensors can be combined with remote communication technology like GPS and GPRS, resulting in networks of distributed elements able to gather spatial and temporal information. These sensing networks can be integrated with spatial data infrastructures. Spatial data infrastructures (SDI) are a framework of technologies, policies, and institutional arrangements includes all the technologies like Geographical Information Systems (GIS), geoportals and diffuse georeferred tools that enable the sharing of geospatial information on a national, regional or global level. SDI can be useful for water monitoring because can handle data and models providing spatial and temporal information on pollutant distribution and toxicity.This work proposes a main framework of and SDI for monitoring the dynamic activity of endocrine disrupting chemicals in water. The proposed SDI is based on multiple remote sensing stations equipped by a set of impedentiometric immunobiosensors coated with ER-α receptor on an ArduinoMEGA® microcontroller-board. The remote sensings are designed to gather spatial and temporal information on the type and the concentration of different EDCs compound in the sampled water. The remote sensing stations are also fitted to communicate the measured data by GPS to a central server-side, thanks to the ArduinoGSMShield®. On the server side a QSAR model is installed to estimate EDCs activity, on the basis of 2 datasets on (EDKB). The outputs on activity and toxicity from the QSAR model and the data gathered from the on-field measurement about the types of EDCs and its on-situ concentration, can be georeferred on geographical maps by a GIS based Web Map Service. Thanks to the time and space dependence of the measured parameter, the produced maps will offer a visual and numerical representation of the dynamic presence of EDCs and toxicity risks in the monitored points. On this view, the proposed SDI represents a useful tool to support decision-makers on regulatory policies that are inclusive of monitoring strategies.