Invited Speaker

Prof. Maria WACŁAWEK

Prof. Maria WACŁAWEK

Institute of Environmental Engineering and Biotechnology
University of Opole
Opole, Poland
Speech Title: The biological monitoring as a source of information on environmental pollution with heavy metals

Abstract: The influence of environmental pollution on living organisms has been known for a long time, but it was not until the second half of the twentieth century that methodical studies on the influence of anthropopressure on changes in ecosystems began. Living organisms began to be used as biological indicators of environmental pollution. Cyclical and quantitative studies of pollutant concentrations in bioaccumulators have become the basis of modern biological monitoring (biomonitoring) of environmental pollution.

Biomonitoring studies are carried out with the passive method (passive biomonitoring), in which living organisms occurring in their natural environment are analyzed, and with active methods (active biomonitoring), in which, for example, plants living in the environment with low pollution are transferred and displayed in more polluted ecosystems e.g. heavy metals.

The analysis of trace elements, including heavy metals accumulated in algae, mosses and lichens used in biological monitoring provides a lot of information on, among others concentration and origin of pollutants and the directions of their spread. Biomonitoring is used to assess the level of contamination of selected ecosystems, as well as the impact of individual emitters on the environment. An important element in determining the concentrations of trace elements in biological material used in biomonitoring is the proper planning of the experiment, taking into account, among others: methods of collecting or exposing samples, selection of analytical methods and methods of evaluation and interpretation of results.

The aim of the presented long-term research, conducted by the Research Team of the Institute of Environmental Engineering and Biotechnology of the University of Opole, was to show that analytical techniques using biota samples can provide reliable data on the past, present and future state of the environment. However, it should be remembered that in order for the results of biomonitoring studies to be reliable and comparable, the applied research methodologies should be consistent and repeatable.

In the presented research, Palmaria palmata and Spirogyra sp. algae, Pleurozium schreberi mosses, Hypogymnia physodes and bark of deciduous trees were used. In samples of biological material by the method of atomic absorption spectrometry, the concentrations of heavy metals, including Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd and Pb, were determined.

On the basis of the conducted research, it was unequivocally stated that the biomonitoring methods are a good complement to the classic methods of environmental quality assessment. The analysis of the elements accumulated in the biological material provides us with information about the quality of the examined ecosystems, the introduced pollutants and their potential sources. This information allows for the introduction of effective measures to improve the quality of the environment.

Keywords: biological monitoring, biomonitoring, biological material, heavy metals, atomic absorption spectrometry

Biography: Maria Wacławek defended her doctoral thesis (awarded with the Minister's Award) in 1978 at Warsaw University of Technology and defended her habilitation thesis (also awarded with the Minister's Award) in 1990 at University of Potsdam (Germany). In the same year, she was employed as an associate professor at Pedagogical University in Opole (later the University of Opole) and at Częstochowa University of Technology. In 2010, she obtained the title of professor in the field of technical sciences. Her research interests focus on environmental monitoring, biomonitoring, and photovoltaics.

She is the President of the Society of Ecological Chemistry and Engineering (www., the editor-in-chief of 4 journals published by TChIE and the Chairwoman of the Organizing Committee of the ECOpole conference, an independent EU expert and reviewer on PV Projects in Brussels, European Commission since 2002, also an author of 198 publications.