Anu Kumar

Anu Kumar

Dr Anu Kumar is a Principal Research Scientist in CSIRO. Dr Kumar is an ecotoxicologist and water quality expert with over 23 years’ experience. Her focus has been on in tracking and identifying pollutants; isolating pollution sources; assessing impacts of aquatic and terrestrial pollution to ecosystems; developing cost-effective and robust monitoring systems; and water management guidelines and practices. More recently, Anu has led water quality related projects in India and Myanmar to ensure safety of water from source to rivers. She has strong interest in applying scientific knowledge and innovative solutions to support food security and water quality protection.

Roadmap For Achieving SDGs: Lessons Learnt From Baseline Pollution Assessment In Myanmar

Reducing exposure to hazardous chemicals is essential to achieving Myanmar’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the Ayeyarwady Basin (ARB). Achieving these goals require political will and investment but also policies that are informed by evidence. An initial, basin-scale assessment of water pollution was conducted within the ARB, with specific reference to the industrial, urban, mining and agriculture sectors of land use. This project involved engagement with government, rural communities including women, and young water professionals (YWPs) and highlighted an urgent need to protect human health through monitoring and controlling faecal contamination, from the headwaters through to the Ayeyarwady Delta. To support this, adequate sanitation promotion is strongly recommended to protect both health and the environment. Pollution arising from lead, arsenic, mercury, and pesticides is among the WHO top seven concerns for of public health (where exposure is through drinking water or consumption of food that has been irrigated with contaminated water). Currently, the information base is not sufficiently robust to explore and prioritise the required strategic and policy instruments to pursue national SDGs in the ARB.  This is where scientists have an important role to play. Policies and strategies are more likely to succeed if they are based on science. Getting there is hard and challenging because there are many barriers such as non-interoperable data systems to share knowledge between sectors in the academic, civil society and policy spheres and fear of unknowns. International scientists through aid projects need to thrive to conduct research that has impact beyond the lab and can be useful for policymakers. Some trade-offs need to be identified to make sure the pace of science and evidence to influence policy matches. Citizen science and women empowerment in Myanmar can help in achieving SDGs in timely and powerful way by providing new models of partnerships and networks.

Communicating Hidden Emerging Water Quality Threats In Our Waterawys Via Score Card

Rivers are the most important inland water resources for human consumption and it is imperative to have reliable information on characteristics and trends of water quality for effective water management. Surface waters are becoming increasingly influenced by wastewater effluents due to drought conditions, growing populations, and urbanization. The ecosystem in surface waters receiving these effluents can experience detrimental effects as a result of exposure, such as reduced aquatic diversity. This trend in ecosystem disruption can be linked to effluents containing mixtures of trace organic contaminants such as pharmaceuticals, personal care products, natural hormones and industrial/commercial compounds, which may persist throughout treatment processes. Physico-chemical parameters, heavy metals, pesticides and emerging contaminants such as endocrine disrupting chemicals, pharmaceuticals were measured in Allahabad and Varanasi including the drains and the main river. Sampling was also conducted in South Australia representing an urban and a rural sub-catchment receiving treated wastewater effluent. To encourage better management of effluents and drains, it is imperative that an objective indication of water quality in the main rivers is available to regulatory bodies, industries and users of the river at all levels of society. The scorecard framework was developed for the selected locations along the Ganga River in India and for comparative analysis, a South Australian sub-catchment was also included in this study. A single rating was derived for metals by summation of hazard quotient for single metals. The score for metals were relatively higher in the drains than in the main Ganga River. In-vitro assays demonstrated greater endocrine potential of partially treated and untreated effluents discharged into the Ganga River. To facilitate risk communication, the information gained using simple score card can contribute to updating water quality guidelines and assist in the risk management of new emerging contaminants in our riverine environment.

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