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US & NZ Share Knowledge On Detecting Contaminants

July 16, 2001

United States And New Zealand Share Knowledge On Detecting Contaminants

A US scientist who battles contamination in his homeland is coming to New Zealand to help our scientists, industries and politicians to protect this country from pollution.

Dr Marshall Adams, from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, will travel to New Zealand as a Fulbright US Distinguished American Scholar. He will be hosted by Landcare Research.

Dr Adams will play a key role at a workshop starting today, which is being hosted by Landcare Research and CENTOX, the Centre for Environmental Toxicology. Participants will consider progress in the field of environmental toxicology, which, broadly speaking, looks to fish and other vertebrates; insects and worms; and plants and micro-organisms to detect and chart effects of environmental stressors and contaminants. A diverse range of people will be present at the workshop, including scientists, industry representatives, academics, consultants, iwi, and regional and district councillors and staff. All will consider how they can use environmental toxicology tools to more effectively apply the Resource Management Act.

Landcare Research toxicologist Dr Louis Tremblay says Dr Adams has ample experience and perspective to advise New Zealanders on this. " Dr Adams is working on a range of projects across the USA, and the Oak Ridge area where he is based has itself been identified as a highly contaminated area, resulting from military activities. Dr Adams has had many years experience in using biological tools in ecoloto assess environmental health. For example, he's looked at fish and fish populations to evaluate the health of river systems.

"Dr Adams also helps others to formulate environmental management policies. He's a very energetic person, and we value his input highly".

"CENTOX has only existed since 1999, and the field of toxicology in general is very new in New Zealand. Dr Adams and other overseas scientists tend to have had more experience in the field, because they have more environmental contamination issues.

"However, although New Zealand still looks green and nice, we have a number of contaminated sites, both from a single point source, such as a pipe or outflow, or from a non-point source, such as effluent, or stormwater.

"The recent spill of tonnes of the rodenticide brodifacoum into the Kaikoura Harbour illustrates how New Zealand is not immune from contamination issues. Also, we are working on several important contamination sites across the country, including a major pesticide storage site".

Dr Tremblay says the RMA meets all the requirements to assist local bodies to protect their areas from contamination effects, but better ways to apply it are needed. "By bringing scientists and regulators around the table together, we hope to create a dialogue that leads to improved guidelines.

" Dr Adams will help us to learn how to get the most from the act as it stands at present. He can make suggestions on how politicians could improve current regulations, to appropriately meet both the needs of people in general, and Crown obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi.

"We are grateful to Fulbright New Zealand for supporting Dr Adams' visit to New Zealand on this valuable information exchange programme".

The workshop, called Integration of Toxicological Tools: Solution to Environmental Management, will be held at the Oak Room at Lincoln University today and tomorrow (programme attached). Media are welcome to attend.

Following the workshop, Dr Adams will spend several days at Landcare Research and CENTOX at Lincoln, and will hold a seminar on aspects of his research at Lincoln University. He will then travel north to visit Forest Research, to give a seminar on the effects of pulp and paper mill effluents on river ecology. From there, he will visit NIWA in Hamilton, and Auckland University's School of Environmental and Marine Sciences.


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