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Medical Geology concerned with the relationship between natural geological factors and human and animal health and the influence of environmental factors on the geographical distribution of health problems.
Medical Geology brings together geoscientists and medical/public health researchers to address health problems caused, or exacerbated by geologic materials (rocks, minerals and water) and geologic processes including volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and atmospheric dust.
Considering importance of Medical Geology, Geological Survey of Iran has established Medical Geology Management on 2005 which is composed of 5 research and laboratory sections:
1. Geochemistry Studies:
Environmental Geochemistry is a relatively young branch of Geochemistry wich seeks to quantify the natural geochemical cycles of elements at the surface of the earth, and the effects of human activities. this science considers all processes which directly or indirectly effect or influence living beings (both plants and animals, including humans).
It this respect, geochemistry working groups identify and delineate the horizontal extent of subsurface contamination in soils and sediments. GSI is working towards providing comprehensive baseline on the chemistry of the Iran surface environment, thus improving our understanding of the soutces and behaviour of chemical substances in the surface zone. Information gained from the analyses of samples of stream sediment and soil, allows high-resolution mapping of chemical baselines in both rural and urban environments. Applications of this data are diverse and include:
- Mapping environmental pollutions
- Support for environmental policymakers and regulators
- Underpinning into possible environmental causes of human health and agricultural promblems
Some of our research activities include the following studies of basic geochemical processes:
- Transformation of trace inorganic and organic contaminats in soils and sediments.
- Enrichments of toxic elements in soils and sediments.
- Studies on the geological controls on deficiency and toxicity of elements in human health.
- Measurement and spatial distribution of potentially toxic elements (e.g. As, Pb, Cd) and organic substances (e.g. PAH and PCB) in soils.
The Geochemical Baseline Survey of the environment is a major GSI project and has an annual campaign of geochemical sampling within many parts of the Iran. Our core function is to provide a national capability in baseline geochemical mapping. The project has now evolved into a high-resolution geochemical survey producing data relevant to many environmental issues. Its main activities can be classified as either Regional or Urban geochemical baseline mapping.
2. Hydrogeochemistry Studies:
Drinking water contains a variety of anions and cations of natural origin derived from the physical and chemical breakdown of minerals in rocks, soil and sediments. This team focuses on understanding the movement and fate of contaminants in variable geological settings. Our research supports from environmental audite to guidance on remediation techniques. Some of our research activities include the following studies of basic hydrogeochemical processe:
- Measurement of inorganic and organic contaminants in surface and groundwater and wastewaters.
- Studying on physical and chemical properties of waters resources.
- Preparation of hydrogeochemical maps and quantitative measurement of pollutants.
3. Natural Radionuclides Studies:
We apply standard techniques within a systematic framework of survey, design and sampling for identifying the distribution of radiogenic isotope (Sr, Pb, ...) and their impact on human health. We determine natural radioactivity by measuring of radioactive elements in water, soil, sediment, plant and biological samples.
Samples were analyzed in Atomic Energy organization laboratory for measuring natural radionuclides 40K, 226Ra, 232Th and 137Cs for sediments and 226Ra, 137Cs, 222Rn, U total and Alpha, Beta emissions for water samples.
4. Geobotany Studies:
The food plants we eat contain a wide range of elements which are essential to all living organisms and are taken up via the roots from the soil solution. However, plants may become contaminated with heavy metals, either from direct atmospheric deposition (from polluted air masses) or via plant uptake from contaminated soils. A wide range of organic contaminants is now ubiquitous in the environment, and their effects on living organisms are of great interest to human and ecosystem health.
Some of our research activities include the following studies:
- Determining toxic elements' concentration in plant's organs.
- Study on resistant plants against pollutants such as heavy metals.
- Effects of geological factors on plants.
Our research objectives often can be satisfied only through a multidisciplinary approach to problem solving.
5. Medical Data Processing:
Main duties of medical and veterinary section are as follows:
- Collecting statistics of geogenic diseases (Fluorosis, Arsenocosis, ...).
- Collecting statistics related to spatial and temporal distribution of animals disease.
- Study on geological factors which cause diseases.
- Preventing geogenic risk factors causing diseases.
- Studying on acute and chronic epimemics.