Reclaim is… Protecting the environment and public health.

In this week’s video we will be learning about silver nanoparticles and how they affect the bacteria in wastewater treatment plants, and how new technologies/methods can be applied to protect public health and improve wastewater treatment plants.

PIRE1Silver nanoparticles

Silver has been widely used because of its antibacterial properties. Silver affects bacterial membrane proteins and accumulates in the membrane, affecting its permeability. It then enters the cell, generates Reacting Oxygen Species (ROS), releases Silver ions and affects bacterial DNA; then the bacteria dies. Silver has been used for things like keeping the surface of a door knob clean and/or household appliance. However, silver has other implication when it comes to human health and the environment. In humans, when high concentrations of silver are present they can suffer a condition known as argyria, which causes skin discoloration. Silver on animals, such as fish, can cause genetic changes on embryos and/or bioaccumulate, and affects growth rates on phytoplankton. Furthermore, the inputs of silver nanoparticles from industry, medical fields and domestic use end-up in wastewaters and it can affect the bacteria “working” on the secondary treatment of these wastewater treatment plants.

PIRE2

Predictive models

Predictive models have been widely applied on research aiming hydrology and bathing water quality. In this week’s video we will learn more about Artificial Neural Networks and how those can be applied to predict bathing water quality and improve wastewater treatment plants. These models are useful because they are based on machine learning, which means that they are capable of “learning” from past scenarios and predict what could happen on future scenarios.

Check out this week’s video to learn more about this. We will have Dr. Andrew P. Duncan and Emma Clarke, both from University of Exeter, talking about these predictive models and silver nanoparticles, respectively.

Questions:

  1. How do you think we could decrease the inputs of silver (nanoparticles)? Have you ever thought of what your “silver footprint” is?
  2. How do you think developing countries could benefit from modelling approaches such as Neural Networks? What would be the best approach to promote these models and convince people on the accuracy of these to improve wastewater treatment plants and create early warning systems for bathing water quality?
  3. How can this video be improved?

Links – Background information

Silver Nanoparticles May Be Killing Beneficial Bacteria In Wastewater Treatment

Silver in the washing machine: Nano-coatings release almost no nano-particles, experts say

Neural networks for predicting seawater bacterial levels

Contributors to blogpost: Abdiel E. Laureano-Rosario

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  1. Abdiel LaureanoNo Gravatar

    Summary of YouTube Conversation

    1. How do you think we could decrease the inputs of silver (nanoparticles)? Have you ever thought of what your “silver footprint” is?

    For this first question there was a general agreement that none of us ever thought of our silver footprint until now. I think this is good because after this I know people will take into account these inputs. Silver nanoparticles in low concentration will not be a danger for human health; however, it is capable to affect bacteria in wastewater treatment plants (secondary treatment) due to its antibacterial properties. Due to this, there was a general concern for what could be the potential effects on the efficiency of wastewater plants due to these silver inputs.
    There was also a general agreement that we as consumer can help reduce these inputs by looking more closely at the things we are buying. Also it was mentioned that there are now high efficiency detergents (for clothes) that do not contain these silver and might help reduce these inputs. Also, it was mentioned that there might be other pollutant that we are not aware of yet, and that research is really important in this area. Silver has been taken into account in the past and compared to the past decade or so it has decreased, however, these nanoparticles still pose a threat to bacteria in wastewater treatments.
    Furthermore, it was mentioned that one of the best approach to decrease these inputs should come from regulations and from companies that have/produce these types of particles. However, it will be important to take into account how much or how big our “silver footprint” is, this way we can help reduce the impact on wastewater.

    2. How do you think developing countries could benefit from modelling approaches such as Neural Networks? What would be the best approach to promote these models and convince people on the accuracy of these to improve wastewater treatment plants and create early warning systems for bathing water quality?

    There are many concerns when it comes to predictive models and their application on water quality and wastewater treatment management. Mostly because these models depend greatly on data quality and many places around the world do not have high quality/resolution data. This is a problem because the results of these models might not be accurate, therefore more people will be doubtful of its results.
    Predictive models, such as Neural Networks, have been used widely to predict bathing water quality and they have been successful; especially because those places where they have been applied had good quality data. This was mentioned in our discussion; most of the students said that they will need to see the results and how it was applied to be able to trust the outcomes. Also, it was mentioned that these models could be useful for both developed and developing countries. It was also mentioned that it is important to keep doing research on this, teaching students the application of these models so we can have a better understanding for further developments.
    Another concern was the applicability to wastewater treatment plants. Neural Networks have been applied on wastewater treatment plants in terms of their hydrology. Other machine learning methods have also been applied on these treatment plants. For example, cased-based reasoning (CBR) has also been applied to wastewater treatment plants. This is based on solving problems of new situations based on its similarity to problems on previous situations; it finds the most similar one (situation), and then “decides” to either reuse it or adapt the information in order to solve the new case. Overall, these models are useful for water quality and WWT, and it will be important to use good quality data and show the accuracy of their results.

    3. How can this video be improved?

    First of all, this was a fun video to make. Thank you all for your inputs. Most of the comments were on background music (while on white board) and for most the Neural Networks weren’t completely clear. I think it would be nice to have more information on Neural Networks. It seems that everyone really enjoyed the whiteboard part; however there were some occasions that people couldn’t read what was been written because it was cut (moved to next scene).

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