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Written for researchers and practitioners in environmental pollution, management and ecology, this interdisciplinary account explores the ecological issues associated with industrial pollution to provide a complete picture of this important environmental problem from cause to effect to solution. Bringing together diverse viewpoints from academia and environmental agencies and regulators, the contributors cover such topics as biological resources of mining areas, biomonitoring of freshwater and marine ecosystems and risk assessment of contaminated land in order to explore important questions such as: What are the effects of pollutants on functional ecology and ecosystems? Do current monitoring techniques accurately signal the extent of industrial pollution? Does existing policy provide a coherent and practicable approach? Case studies from throughout the world illustrate major themes and provide valuable insights into the positive and negative effects of industrial pollution, the provision of appropriate monitoring schemes and the design of remediation and restoration strategies.
One of the first questions that faced us when preparing this introductory chapter was ‘what do we mean by industry?’ In modern terms, one often refers to the industrial revolution that began in the latter half of the eighteenth century, which circumscribes the change from an agriculturally based economy to one dominated by manufacturing. However, industrial processes have a history far longer than this, and can be traced back to the Bronze Age and even before, particularly the extraction of minerals. We could also consider agriculture to be an industry as it is the extraction of raw resources albeit in a rather different form. Therefore when we refer to industry, we are actually considering a very wide range of processes and activities. Common to all these, however, is the fact that the production of goods from raw resources creates by-products that can pollute the environment and adversely affect ecosystems.
The industrial pollutants produced and their impacts are potentially as varied as the sources from which they derive, and there has been extensive research into specific effects of individual contaminants on specific organisms or communities. The problem with this approach is that the resulting view is one that can be rather blinkered. It is becoming increasingly clear that, rather than simply causing deterioration of ecosystems, contaminated sites may well be sources of biodiversity. Organisms living on such sites can show great genetic adaptation and may prove useful in the remediation of other contaminated sites.
This volume reflects the content of the Symposium on the Ecology of Industrial Pollution which was held in Birmingham, UK, from 7 to 8 April 2008. The principal aim of this symposium and the associated volume was to provide an interdisciplinary analysis of a particular environmental problem that has historically affected many parts of the world and continues to do so. One of the key approaches was to obtain inputs from academics, enforcers and practitioners in order to provide a balanced view of the issue and to identify any potential areas of disagreement! Second, we recognised that, although many of the individual components of pollutants are dealt with in meetings and publications, there is little interaction between researchers who deal with the ‘pure science’ issues and those who deal with more technological aspects, nor between microbiologists, botanists and zoologists. By bringing these normally disparate areas together, we hoped to provide new research areas and more importantly exchange of existing knowledge and experiences.
In our introduction we try to provide an overview of the key subject areas covered within the volume and identify what we consider to be the principal questions that were generated from discussions at the meeting. The remainder of the book is not subdivided but instead the chapters are arranged into what we hope to be a logical progression from the main ecological impacts through monitoring techniques and finishing with ecological remediation technologies and system recovery.
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