Accepted Paper:

Sentinel organisms and the monitoring of water quality  

Author:

Christelle Gramaglia (Institut National de Recherche en Sciences et Technologies pour l'environnement et l'agriculture)

Paper short abstract:

The aim of this paper is to discuss ways of knowing water pollution on the basis of ethnographic materials collected in Viviez (Aveyron, Southwestern France)and along the Lot-Gironde water system. It focusses on the work of ecotoxicologists who have developed methods to study toxics’ such as cadmium and are now able to monitor their noxiousness thanks to the fish, molluscs and algae they can enroll as sentinels in their experiments. It gives us us the opportunity to discuss the role of human and non-human assemblage in the management of environmental hazards.

Paper long abstract:

Aside from dramatic events that make the news, the problems of pollution in rivers are hardly visible. Unless the color of water changes, or large quantities of dead fish are being carried along in the current, only very attentive and technically-equipped observers can evaluate their effects. It has been the case for a very long time in Viviez, Aveyron (Southwestern France), where a zinc factory is still operating immediately upstream the confluence of the Riou Mort and the Lot rivers. The activities of the plant have been reduced since the 1980's. Great efforts have also been undertaken to reduce the impact of zinc production on the environment. A soil remediation program is on progress too, but cadmium contaminated sediments are still a problem. Indeed, large quantities of toxics were washed away and are still trapped in the bed of the Lot river and the Gironde estuary, affecting water quality and aquatic biodiversity. The aim of this paper is to discuss ways of knowing water pollution on the basis of ethnographic materials collected along the Lot-Gironde water system. It focuses on the work of ecotoxicologists who have developed methods to study toxics' such as cadmium and are now able to monitor their noxiousness thanks to the fish, molluscs and algae they can enroll as sentinels in their experiments. This paper presents innovative techniques used by ecotoxicologists giving us the opportunity to discuss the role of human and non-human assemblage in the management of environmental hazards.

Panel W052
Threats on biodiversity: species extinction and sentinel technologies