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Background

 

 

 

Year of Establishment

 

The Unit of Environmental Forensics was established on  the 1st of September 2008.

 

Background

 

In  the last few decades, Malaysia  has experienced rapid industrial development. The rapid development had lead to  various problems in relevance to environmental pollution caused by industrial  and agricultural waste, urban waste, domestic sewage, runoff from urban area,  landfill site, pharmaceutical waste from hospital and health centres including  antibiotics and oil-based residues from motor vehicles. The waste consists of  chemical or complex organic compounds that are generated through industrial processes.  Organic waste does not only pose a threat to natural resources and human  health; but also are harmful on the environment. All these compounds are  collectively known as micro-organic pollutant. These compounds are known as  micro-organic pollutants.  Environmental  pollutants include hydrocarbon, raw sewage, treated sewage, faeces, polychlorinated  biphenyl (PCB), pesticide, nutrient, heavy metal, pharmaceuticals, and etc.

The  existence of organic chemicals is alarming because a huge portion of xenobiotic  chemicals (man-made chemicals) which are generated and released into the  environment; are proven to exert carcinogenic and mutagenic properties on  mammals. Recently, these chemical has been reported to disrupt human endocrine  system and having the constricted capacity to mimic endocrine hormones as well  as their functions.

Malaysia should find ways to categorize the chemical  organic waste released into environment. Such classification should include  their fate determination, distribution, dispersion, sources and transport  pathway in environmental medium such as air, water, biota, sediment and earth. Since  the introduction and implementation of the Environmental Quality Act (EQA)  1974, Malaysia  has managed its main pollution sources effectively. The water quality for the  overall country has improved by the diligent monitoring conducted by relevant  agencies such as DOE.

Nonetheless,  there another element of pollution more particularly termed as non-point source  pollution which lacks attention nationally. Non-point source pollution is  caused by a variety of sources and is diffused widely. As such, characterization  of non-point pollution has been challenging. However, the set up of the  environmental forensic field, a basic of modern geochemical organic which uses  equipment and latest techniques has enabled forensic chemist to identify any  chemical released on the environment in using molecular marker approach.

Those  characteristics shared by all molecular markers shows that their structure are closely  related to their designated source. Therefore, specific observation of a single  compound in the environment will inevitably lead us to a specific compound  source. In principle, when several markers have been discovered, as a result, other  sources from various origins can be determined. This case is very crucial as it  allows us to make estimation of sources of pollutant from a large pool of  inputs of various origins (non-point source) indirectly.

The  main task of successful implementation of environmental forensic investigation  is to build a chemical database for source material characterization and  identification. Laboratory which runs this investigation must be equipped with  latest equipment such as High Resolution Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometer  (HR-GC-MS), GC-FID, GC-ECD, GC-FPD, Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (AAS),  Inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS), Neutron Activation  Analysis (NAA), UV Visible-Spectrometer, Ion Chromatography  (IC), High Performance Liquid Chromatography  (HPLC), Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometer (LC-MS), Elektroforesis Gel, Spectrometer  Pendarfluor, Mercury Analyzer, TOC Analyzer and DNA sequencer.

By  using all of the above tools, environmental sample material could be analyzed  for identify the pollutant which resides within it and their profile can be  compared to material sources, in conclusion, that waste origins can be identified.

 

 

Updated:: 02/01/2018 [sitiarina]

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FACULTY OF ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES
Universiti Putra Malaysia
43400 UPM Serdang
Selangor Darul Ehsan
03-97696733
03-89438109
C1574369263