Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa
Title: Climate Change and Drought: Potential Impact of Emerging Contaminants in Water Systems on Biodiversity
Olalekan S Fatoki hold a PhD in Chemistry and his field of research is in analytical environmental chemistry. His expertise lies in trace organic analyses using various analytical tools for their detection in different matrices and on remediation with nanomaterials. His work has focused on endocrine disruptors - organochlorine pesticides (OCPs, e.g., DDTs), phthalates, phenols, PAHs and organotins but recently he has focused on emerging contaminants (ECs) - brominated flame retardants (BFRs), PFOA, PFOS and pharmaceuticals, looking at alternative methods of determination, assessing their levels and health risks and investigating their remediation. EDCs could impact on human health, hence his interest.
South Africa as a country is water stressed but the growing effects of climate change with its extreme weather conditions and erratic rainfall pattern is aggravating the situation with incidence of droughts in many parts of South Africa. As a result of the impact of drought, water security will be a concern for many years to come in the city with consequent effects on people’s livelihood. One of the water management strategies being affected by government is wastewater reuse both for domestic and agricultural uses. However with the increasing concern on the occurrence of some pollutants of emerging concern many of which are endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), there are concerns that these chemicals can pose ecological health risk especially as current technologies being used by many municipalities for wastewater treatment are not equipped to remove these chemicals before they are being discharged into the receiving water systems. Our studies in the Cape Town environment have indicated the presence of EDCs, such as Brominated flame retardants (BRFs), Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) and pharmaceutical residues in wastewaters. Results of ecological risk tests showed varied levels of toxicities, including oestrogenicity which could affect the biodiversity of the ecosystem in the receiving waters.