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Question:As soil and water share similar pollution problems, what research methods can be shared between them?

by alejobonifacio | May 31, 2021 19:56 | #26744

Hi everybody! my name is Alejo. I participate in a community science project called "Water watchers" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWVomD1jsuo) in which we see the pollution that one of the most important rivers in central Argentina is suffering. We use DIY microscopes and a mobile app as a tool.

We would also like to measure some contaminant in water and, if possible, it can also be measured in soil. The river brings very polluted water and we want to know how much it affects the surrounding soil.

We need some method to measure organic pollution (sewage effluents), or heavy metals that is cheap, since we work with low-income schools.


@alejobonifacio, thanks for sharing the video, it was great to see such engaged students and how they use the DIY microscopes and app together 😀

Regarding testing water and soil for heavy metals:

  • The Nuestros Suelos project by @sureta in Chile and collaborators in the US is developing low cost methods for detecting copper and arsenic in soils. @sureta, could your methods potentially be applied to water?

  • And this comment by @Ag8n mentions that there's potential for water heavy metal tests to be applied to soil.

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Hi @bhamster!

Thanks for sharing these info...

I also see in the Nuestros Suelos url, some interesting comments about kits of nitrates that can be useful

Also thanks to let me in touch to @Ag8n!

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If you shop on the commercial sites, there are claims that their kits ( for a variety of tests) will cover soil even though the kits are designed for water. Talk to the company reps to get more information- like methods used, validation procedures, etc. Just the mention in the sales line throws a bit of a red flag. Usually, the soil testing is much more involved, with additional filtration steps, sometimes ashing steps, etc. But there could be some that can do it. Please, just be skeptical and cover your bases. Regards.

There were some books on " Biosensors for environmental engineering" published a couple of years ago. They had chapters on heavy metal detection. They might have more information and better ideas.

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One of the chapters in the book is "Biosensors for the determination of heavy metals in water". The chapter is by Amra Odobasic, Indira Sestan, and Sabina Begic. It might give you some ideas. Good luck.

Thanks @Ag8n for all these information!

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Hola I just see this post. @alejobonifacio it is really interesting what you are doing with the appear!! We are now playing with openflexure microscope with the idea to monitor soils to check biodiversity We used some water test kits to monitor nitrates and we did some test also in water I think your work has much overlapping with the one of Co-Sensores I think it would be a good idea if we can talk and then maybe you can join us at reGOSH too. Let me know what you think Saludos

Hola @nanocastro! 🙌 I don't know so much about Open-Flexure, but I'll love to play with one 🔬 And the nitrate determinator looks very good! The activities of @Co-Sensores are incredible. It would be a pleasure to talk to you and contact the "Vigilantes del Agua" with reGOSH. 🤝 Thanks!!!

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