University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP) Director Raina Maier and Training Core Fellow Juliana Gil-Loaiza traveled to Romania to participate in the Central and Eastern European Conference on Health and the Environment, May 25-29, 2014. The meeting was held in Cluj-Napoca, the second most populous city in Romania. The theme of the meeting was “The Environment – A Platform for Health,” and the goal was to strengthen US and Central and Eastern European relationships in order to better support and increase expertise in health and environment in the region.
Dr. Maier spoke about “Revegetation of Mine Tailings and Waste Rock” at a pre-meeting workshop focused on “Site Remediation.” The workshop was attended by students interested in environmental protection from the nearby Universitatea Babes-Bolyai.
During the meeting, Maier and Gil-Loaiza spoke in the “Responsible Mining” session, co-chaired by Corina Lupu, Head of the National Agency for Environmental Protection, Bucharest and Souhail Al-Abed, National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, US EPA. Maier provided the keynote address, “Mining and Social License,” while Gil-Loaiza presented her dissertation work in Dr. Maier’s lab, “Direct planting as phytostabilization strategy: Overcoming challenges in acidic metalliferous mine tailings in Southwestern USA.”
Gil-Loaiza enjoyed the opportunity to attend the conference. She remarked, “it was interesting to see the challenges the region has to face with mining and the environment due to a non-strict legal framework. The law is lax in term of reclamation plans for mining companies. The students and professors seemed very interested in the experiences we have had, our methodology and results.” Other conference highlights included learning more about nanoparticles and their implications for human health, hearing the Romanian perspective about the Russia-Ukraine Crimean conflict, and participating in a career opportunities session for students.
Outside of the conference, Gil-Loaiza enjoyed learning about history and culture from Romanian students, sampling local wine and coffee, and exploring the countryside around Cluj-Napoca, whose “green hills and mountains” reminded her of her own home in Colombia. Maier and Gil-Loaiza both agreed that one of the most interesting – yet spooky – parts of Cluj-Napoca was the eerie music and light show that played on the cross across form their hotel each night: “let’s say it was very …vampiric!”
Click to read more about the event in the NIEHS Environmental Factor!